Friday, February 19, 2010

Pasta Puttanesca




From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Ladies of the evening are credited with creating this pasta dish. While that makes the origins of the dish more interesting, there's not a lot to support the claim. Pasta Puttanesca did not become popular until the 1960's. A more likely truth can probably be found in the purses of frugal Italian housewives. The sauce is made with a handful of ingredients, many of them leftovers, and by using a bit of this and a bit of that, a filling and delicious pasta could be made for pennies. I'm not completely immune to kitchen fable and romance. My favorite story regarding the origins of the dish comes from the book "Top 100 Pasta Sauces" by Diane Seed who reported, "My introduction to this famous pasta dish occurred when I overheard two elderly priest discussing the pros and cons of spaghetti alla puttanesca ("whore's spaghetti") as they deliberated over the menu in a Neapolitan restaurant. Made of ingredients found in most Italian larders, this is also known as spaghetti all buona donna - the good woman's spaghetti - which can be misleading if one is not familiar with the ironic insult "figlio d'una buona donna" - son of a good woman." Now how does that explain how this particular sauce got its name? In the 1950's Italian brothels were state owned. Italian prostitutes were, for all intent and purposes, civil servants, but they were only allowed to shop once a week and could not shop with "good" Italian housewives. Their meals were made from odds and ends and tinned goods in the kitchens of the brothels. This sauce became one of their specialties. They did not create it, but they sure made it popular. When I was working and my ravenous teens could not wait for a "real" meal, this became one of my go-to suppers. I could have it on the table in 20 minutes and quell the revolution before it gained a foothold in my kitchen. I made this at least once a month back then and it is still a favorite of mine on days when the clock runs out before my schedule does. It's perfect for a Lenten Friday supper. Here's the recipe.

Pasta Puttanesca...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon freshly minced garlic
1 pound spaghetti
2 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
4 teaspoons minced anchovies (about eight fillets) or 1 heaping tablespoon anchovy paste
1 can (28-oz) diced tomatoes, drained, reserve ½ cup juice
3 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup black olives (kalamata) pitted and chopped coarse
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves and or basil

Directions:
1) Bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Meanwhile, mix garlic with 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl; set aside. When water is boiling, add salt and the pasta; stir to separate the noodles. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain then return pasta to pot. Add 1/4 cup reserved tomato juice and toss to coat.
2) While pasta cooks, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add garlic mixture, pepper flakes and anchovies to pan. Cook, stirring, frequently, until garlic is fragrant but not brown. Stir in tomatoes and simmer for 8 minutes.
3) Stir capers, olives, and parsley into the sauce. Pour sauce over pasta and toss to combine, adding more tomato juice to moisten if necessary. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper to taste. If desired, sprinkle an additional tablespoon of olive oil over pasta before serving. Serve immediately. Yield: 4 to 5 servings.

You might also enjoy these recipes:

Capellini Capricciosi
Fusilli with Fennel, Sausage and Red Wine
Ravioli with Salmon and Vodka Cream Sauce

This recipe is being linked to:
Designs By Gollum - Foodie Friday

41 comments:

Allie and Pattie said...

Mary, this was a favorite of my Nonno's . My grandmothers version had pancetta in it, but I'm going to try yours for Lent. I LOVE these quick and delicious pasta dishes.
xoxo Pattie

Vanillastrawberryspringfields said...

Oh sweet MAry...what a fantastic looking delicious pasta not only with a beautiful pic but also fantastic history......

Have a wonderfully cheery day sweety....

pigpigscorner said...

anchovies and olives...yum! You've got to love pasta, so simple and tasty!

Alessandra said...

Another theory is that this pasta, as it is quick to make, was served in the 'closed homes' (the name given to the houses where the 'evening' ladies entertained) to the waiting customers :-)

Debinhawaii said...

I was just thinking about pasta puttanesca the other day. It looks delicious! ;-)

Carol at Serendipity said...

Mary,

This is one of our favorites as well. All the ingredients are on our shopping list for next week!

Beautiful photograph.

Carol

Joanne said...

I love puttanesca sauce. The salty brine from the capers and anchovies makes it that much more delicious. One of the best go-to sauces ever. And I love telling people the story of the ladies-of-the-night. No matter how untrue it may be.

Kathy said...

Who would have thought that such a delicious pasta dish would have such an eh.... interesting history attached lol, loved this story and We all love this dish. happy Foodie Friday and happy weekend too. Kathy.

Janine said...

Oh Yum!! Any pasta dish is great with me!! Love this one!

George Gaston said...

Fascinating story! Whatever the origin, this is a fabulous pasta dish. So often, it is the dishes from humble backgrounds that are the best.

Mary, this is definitely a keeper ~ Thanks.

♥ Kathy said...

I bet that's good. I love anything with pasta in it!

Shellbelle said...

I love this dish and your story of its origin is fascinating! While the ladies may not have been the original creators, it adds a touch more spiciness in the telling. I have to remember this!

Erica said...

Mary......this is one of my favourite pasta dishes. I'm going to try your recipe.Thanks for sharing.

Claudia said...

An absolute favorite around here also - but yours looks so much prettier than mine!

Elisa, Croatia said...

Mary, what a coincidence this is what we had for lunch today, (well a version of it) it did have capers but I totally forgot about the anchioves in my pantry, and minus the olives..LOL but it was still tasty.

Saludos.

Elisa, Croatia said...

Oh I forgot to mention I loved the story behind the different names

My Little Space said...

This is a quick recipe! Simple and nice as well.

zurin said...

I loved the story Mary!! they were civil servants and not allowed to shop with good housewives!! that is so interesting....esp the civil servant part.

and the pasta looks soo good. and I love anchovies.

Have a good day!! ^_^

Cottage Sisters said...

The pasta looks wonderful! I love the story behind it too. Thanks for sharing. Denise@cottagesisters

DailyChef said...

What an amazing looking pasta. You make it seem so easy to make too!

Lynda said...

This is fanastic looking dish and I love the story behind it. Thanks for a quick and delicious meal idea, Mary!
Have a wonderful weekend!

Mrs. P. said...

Mary..this looks devine!!

Have a lovely weekend!

Blessings!
Gail

Ashlie said...

I've had a can of anchovies in my cupboard for a while - I was going to try to make some homemade caesar dressing, but I should have plenty to give this a try too. It sounds so simple and tasty!

Debbie said...

I love pasta, my favorite dish! This sauce sounds good but I think I would leave out the anchovies!

Katherine Aucoin said...

I've always wanted to make this because I heard the aromas while the sauce was cooking were insane.

Yours looks absolutely gorgeous. I am going to use your recipe.

Have a great weekend!

Bridgett said...

Beautiful! One of my favorites.

Karen said...

I love this too. Pastas without meat are a favorite of mine.

Barbara said...

Love the story, Mary! And if that weren't enough, there is the photo-which is wonderful.
And it's not all that involved a pasta either. Yummee!

Twin Tables said...

I love Puttanesca! Thanks for a great recipe. Can't wait to try it!

Melissa and Zack said...

that's so funny Mom - i was planning to make this tonight or tomorrow :) looks delish.

Joyce said...

Funny but this is one of my go to meals also. Always so delicious:)
Joyce

Miss Meat and Potatoes said...

Ooh - I love the history behind the recipe. But I have to say I'm going to stick with the false, racier background;)

Cathy said...

A wonderful blend of flavors in a beautiful bowl of pasta. Great photo, Mary. I can tell we're getting close to dinner time. I'm feeling hunger pangs.

Cookin' Canuck said...

Puttanesca appeals to my salt-loving palate. Olives, capers & anchovies - I'm in heaven! I really enjoyed your post.

acekard said...

This was damn good food. Easy to prepare, requiring only a bit of patience to wait for the duck to confit. One of the best meals I had in a long time. Good as breakfast.

Caroline said...

Mmmm, we love olives! This is a definite try for us and our family loves Kamut Khorasan Wheat pasta so I think I may use this for the spaghetti!! Thanks so much :)

Diane {createdbydiane.blogspot.com} said...

I'm so glad I found your photo on Refrigerator Soup (my cookie is on their as well, Hot Lips)
This is one of my husband's favorite dishes an I do believe I'm made no attempt to make this for him properly. You dish look fantastic and I can't wait to try it :)neither can he.

italianhandful said...

What a great recipe and picture! This is one of those unconscious dishes that never hits the written page in a typical Italian family but everyone knows and loves. I enjoyed reading the history. Thanks for writing the "recipe." Lovely blog. italianhandful

Allie said...

This is one of my favourite pasta dishes, and your recipe looks amazing! I'll be trying it out soon. Thanks!

Ronnie said...

This pasta recipe looks so tasty! I will be making it very shortly, and will let you know what I think.

The picture looks great, I'm sure it's delicious.

Pork & Gin said...

Interestingly though, puttanesca is no longer the most popular pasta sauce amongst the “ladies of negotiable affection” in Naples – we went out onto the streets and did a survey: http://porkandgin.com/other-stuff/what-putas-eat/

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