Saturday, June 16, 2007

Lusty Passion for Putanesca

Since I have some time to waste while I wait for breakfast to cook, I thought I would share my passion for putanesca sauce. --How cute, spell check wants me to change 'putanesca' to Bhutanese or cutaneous.-- It is something I just keep coming back to over and over again for a quick and tasty dinner. It probably takes 20 minutes at most to make, and you can make variations depending on the ingredients you have. In fact, I may better describe the sauces I make as variations on a theme of putanesca or just tomato sauce with tasty add ins. I always have the tomatoes, either diced or whole (which I squish or chop), always two or three cloves of garlic chopped or put through a press, and always some chili paste to taste. I usually have available some kalamata (spell check prefers 'salamander') olives and capers (I am currently in love with capers, which does not speak well of my personal life). Two or three anchovy fillets are great if you have them and they are the tasty rather than cat-foody ones. I have also recently been adding chopped artichoke hearts, the marinated kind, with increased yumminess as a result. For sprinkling on top, either parmesan or feta (goat feta competes with capers for my affection) and chopped fresh parsley, mostly for colour because I don't really like parsley. I once, in an attempt to increase the protein content of my dinner, added a can of tuna, regular old white flake or chunk stuff, drained of the packing water. It was really good and I was enthusiastic to do it again. However, the next time I only had a can of pink salmon, no tuna. I added it in happily making enough pasta for two extra portions for lunch/dinner the next day. The smell was almost unbearable. In fact, the smell was unbearable. I managed to eat about half of one portion, but the stink was making me nauseous even though the taste wasn't as bad. Please note that there was nothing wrong with the salmon, it was just a really bad combo with the sauce. I don't know why so bad, but really really bad. I had to compost the whole thing. So tuna yes, salmon no. You can also add cooked sliced or diced chicken breast, but it doesn't really add anything other than protein and volume. Shrimp/prawns might work too, haven't tried it.

I've lately been using whole wheat spaghetti with this recipe and it is good and doesn't leave you with that nasty, bloaty feeling that a heap of white pasta often does.

Recipe (makes enough sauce for 2-3 servings):
1 14oz can of diced or whole tomatoes (if whole, chop them)
2-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
~1/2 tsp of chili paste (more or less to your taste)
2-4 anchovy fillets (or a squeeze of the paste if you have it and want it)
~10 kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1-2 tbsp capers, drained and chopped
3-4 chunks of marinated artichokes, coarsely chopped
1 can of tuna (or 1 cooked chicken breast, or some cooked shrimp)
parmesan or feta (sprinkle as much as you like on top)
chopped parsley (pretty green accent)
pasta for 2-3 people

Bring pasta water to a boil, and put pasta in. Put olive oil in a medium hot pan. Add in garlic, anchovy and chili and fry until garlic is golden. Add in can of tomatoes with all the juice and leave to simmer and reduce. WARNING: With a hot pan it takes very little time for the garlic to become burnt and icky and you have to start again or just live with the off taste. Better to have the can of tomatoes open and ready to be dumped in. Cook until the liquid is reduced by at least half to two thirds. The pasta may be done before the liquid is finished reducing, if so, drain it and set it to the side for a few minutes. It won't sit long enough to get gummy and sticky so don't worry about it. When the liquid is reduced, add all the other ingredients that you are using (except the cheese and parsley). Dump the pasta into the sauce (I forgot to mention that you should use a big skillet for this, the larger bottom surface area reduces the liquid faster than a saucepan would). If you are feeling organized, you can reserve some of the tomato juice in the can (about 1/3 cup) and add it at the end if the sauce is a bit thick. Stir it all up and serve sprinkled with cheese and parsley and possibly a medium bodied Italian red if you are so inclined. Yum.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

We make this kind of sauce all the time, it's so yummy!
Try also some crumbled hot Italian turkey sausage from Thrifty's if you want to increase the meat and/or hotness level.

10:47 AM  

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