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Sunday, February 11, 2018

Puttanesca Sauce

Linguine alla Puttanesca  (Linguine, “Whore Style”).

4  Tbs olive oil (extra virgin)

2  large garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thinly

1  large fire-roasted red pepper (available bottled), seeded and sliced into thin strips

4  Oz olive-oil packed anchovies, drained and pounded to a paste (This is one small tin; I generally use about 3/4s of it – to taste.)

1  2-pound can of imported Italian peeled tomatoes, drained (but save some of the juice in case you need to thin the sauce later.)  

1  Cup pitted black olives, not from California, which will give the wrong flavor!  (I use pitted Kalamata olives – bottled – from Greece and halve them.)  

2  Tbs small capers (but some extra won’t hurt…)  

1  pound dried pasta

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet, add the garlic and diced red peppers, and fry gently for 6 or 7 minutes until the garlic is softened. Add the pounded anchovies and cook until they dissolve, stirring until thoroughly blended.  

Cut the tomatoes coarsely and add to the pan along with the olives and capers. Cook gently, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens and begins to take on a slightly brownish hue.  This generally takes about 30 minutes. It must not be watery, but not too thick either…  

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted water until al dente – follow package directions – and drain in a colander. Serve in warmed pasta bowls with a generous ladle of sauce on each serving. Alternatively, you can pile all the pasta on a serving plate, spread the sauce on top, and toss it. 

The recipe doubles and triples reasonably well. 

Buon Appetito!

Historical note: Puttanesca sauce has been a Neapolitan classic for more than a century, its name deriving from an impolite Italian word for prostitute – la puttane. One finds several competing theories for the origin of the name, but no one really knows its real derivation. Here are the most popular suggestions:  

(1)  Because the ingredients are readily available, and it cooks quickly, it was easy for a woman of the night to prepare the dish as a pick-me-up between “assignments.”  

(2) Some of the ingredients - notably the olives, anchovies, and capers - are reputed to be aphrodisiacs.  

(3)  It can be made very salty, thus encouraging the puttane’s “clients” to drink more.  

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