Like wives from the sitcoms, the Accidental Locavore knows that there are two dishes guaranteed to put my husband in a good mood. Albondigas (Mexican meatballs) are a close second, but his favorite has to be pasta puttanesca. It’s super easy to make, supposedly the Italian working girls used to make it between tricks, and most of the ingredients are things you probably have on hand. This makes two very generous servings with leftovers. I’ve given you measurements, but feel free to improvise.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (you don’t need the good stuff here)
- 3 anchovies
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 can whole plum tomatoes, crushed with your hands
- 2 tablespoons capers
- ¼ cup pitted mixed olives, coarsely chopped
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Fresh ground pepper
- 3 links Italian sausage (optional)
- ½ box of pasta (we use rigatoni)
- Grated Parmesan
In a large pot, bring well salted water to boil for the pasta.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the anchovies and allow to melt in the oil. When the anchovies are melted, add the garlic. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the crushed tomatoes, capers, olives, red pepper flakes, pepper and sausage, if using. Stir to combine. Taste and check for seasonings. Let simmer while the pasta cooks. When the pasta is cooked, drain it and add to the sauce. Mix well. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan and enjoy!
Notes: Cooking the anchovies in the oil and allowing them to melt, adds tons of flavor. It’s a pain to pit olives when you’re in a hurry (do it by smashing them with the side of a knife), so I always try to keep mixed pitted olives on hand and when I can find them, chopped mixed pitted olives. You could used diced plum tomatoes, but the whole ones, crushed by hand, is better and gives the finished dish a nice, rustic texture. Use either hot or sweet Italian sausage, or a mix, and grill them and slice them, or cut off the casings and crumble. If you cut off the casings and crumble the sausage, add them right after the anchovies are melted, and give them a couple of minutes to cook before you add the rest of the ingredients. I don’t add salt to the sauce as most of the ingredients are pretty salty, but I add a lot to the pasta water-remember “it should taste like the sea”.