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Friday, 29 July 2011

Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca

Without doubt, my favourite pasta dish is Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca which literally means "whore's style spaghetti" (yes I know the picture has linguine in it but I didn't have any spag in the cupboard). It's a dish packed full of flavours but once you get a taste for it, it will be your sauce of choice whenever you make pasta. It originates from the south of Italy and was first created in the 1950's by a man called Sandro Petti who owned a restaurant on the southern Italian island of Ischia near Naples.

As with any Italian dish there is no "correct" way of making it but this is the way I make mine.

Serves 2

Olive oil
3 cloves garlic chopped finely or crushed
handful of chopped parsley
4 anchovy fillets
3 red chili's chopped finely seed removed
3 teaspoons of small capers
generous handful of kalamata black olives
tin of chopped tomatoes
heaped teaspoon of tomato paste
Handful of cherry tomatoes
Jar of tuna (optional... worth adding if you can get a posh jar of Albacore in olive oil. Tins won't cut it).
Good quality dried spaghetti (or linguine)

Chop the garlic, chilli and parsley finely ready for cooking.

Boil a pan of salted water and start cooking your spaghetti. The sauce will take about ten minutes.

Fry the garlic in about a tablespoon of olive oil (err on generous with the oil rather than trying to make it low fat) being careful not to burn it. Add the anchovies and chilli and fry on a low heat until the anchovies have melted. Add the tin of tomatoes and the tomato paste and bring to a simmer. Add the capers, cherry tomatoes, half the parsley and the olives and leave to simmer for about 6-7 minutes. Don't let the sauce get too thick and try and keep the cherry tomatoes and olives intact. You're aiming for something thick enough that it coats the pasta but remains slightly "brothy"(this is why Italians serve bread with everything, because they like to mop up the sauce).

Your pasta should probably be cooked by now (al dente please peeps!) so drain it, retaining a small amount of the water and add it to the pan of sauce (if you're using tuna, break it up into chunks and add it now). Gently fold the pasta into the sauce and heat gently for about a minute. Serve with the rest of the parsley scattered over the top.

What no parmesan????!!!?? Nope. You can of course have parmesan grated over the top (my wifey likes to do so and it's your dinner so you can do what you want), but it is absolutely frowned upon to top pasta sauces containing fish with cheese in Italy. So if you see puttanesca on the menu of your favourite Italian restaurant and you ask for parmesan, don't be alarmed if the waiter or waitress shoots you a funny look!

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