It’s been a while since I craved pasta to the ferocious extent I have done over the past week. My intention was to get into my kitchen as soon as possible and make a pasta dish including some of the flavours I craved – capers, anchovies, olives and tomatoes – but life has been extraordinarily social lately, I’ve hardly been at home to eat a meal. Spaghetti Puttanesca is exactly what I wanted.
I made a very punchy-flavoured version to hit my craving buttons head-on. You may want to tone it down a bit and opt for a smaller quantity of ingredients where applicable.
Another trick I’ve picked up along the way when making pasta and sauce is to always finish off the cooking of the pasta in the sauce and not in the hot water. This way it sucks up so much more of the sauce and flavour. This is how they do it in restaurants.
About 4 minutes before your pasta is done, and whilst it is still too al dente, drain –reserving the cooking water – and toss it in with the sauce. Add some of the cooking liquid because it is still going to need it. Finish off the cooking to al dente and serve immediately.
I love to sprinkle finely cut-up fresh tomato over my Puttanesca at the end. It is not at all traditional, but I love the contrasting raw and cold with the hot and cooked ingredients. I also find the fresh tomato helps break through the saltiness of the sauce.
I have never, ever buy pitted olives. I am yet to taste one that is even vaguely comparable to a whole olive. I will deal with the slightly annoying olive pip-spitting-out situation vs. the inferior taste of a factory-pitted version and quite frankly life is too short to pit your own.
- 250 g spaghetti
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic crushed or finely chopped
- 6 – 8 anchovy fillets chopped
- 1 x 400g tin 14-ounce, peeled chopped tomatoes
- A small handful of flat-leaf parsley chopped (half for the sauce and half reserved to garnish)
- A few basil leaves chopped or 1Tbsp basil pesto
- 2 – 3 Tbsp capers
- ½ cup black olives
- 1/2 t dried chili flakes or one fresh red chilli finely chopped
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese to serve
- Finely chopped fresh tomato to serve optional
- Cook the pasta in a large pot with salted boiling water as per instructions.
- Heat the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and add the garlic and anchovies. Cook briefly until the garlic just starts to turn golden and the anchovies break down.
- Add the tinned tomatoes, capers, olives, half the parsley and fresh basil/basil pesto, and the chili, and cook for a few minutes. If it starts thickening too quickly, add ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water.
- Drain the pasta before it is down -reserving the cooking water - and mix it into the sauce, toss around, adding additional pasta water if necessary. Continue to cook for a few minutes and until the pasta is done to your liking.
- Scatter over the remaining parsley and dish up in bowls.
- Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.