Thursday, June 30, 2011

Penne Puttanesca

I had my first puttanesca sauce in SF on a pizza at A16.  I thought the sauce was so good especially since I never tasted capers, olives, anchovies, and tomato sauce together.  I fell in love.  This pasta dish reminds me of that night.  I made it even though Mat doesn't like capers, olives, or anchovies!  After he took a bite of this pasta, he was surprised that he liked the flavor combo too.  I always make him try new things.  You don't know 'til you try!

From My Father's Daughter and I added minor notes
Makes 4 servings

Coarse salt
3/4 pound (3/4 box) penne (I used whole wheat penne and I would recommend reducing the pasta to 1/2 pound if you prefer your pasta more saucy)
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
Pinch red chili flakes
5 olive oil-packed Spanish anchovies (I couldn't find Spanish but I did find Italian anchovies and it worked just fine)
1 heaping tbs salt-packed capers, rinsed
1/3 cup pitted nicoise olives (I couldn't find nicoise olives so I used kalamata olives)
2 cups Basic Tomato Sauce
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
A few tbs pasta water, to thin
1/4 cup torn fresh parsley, for garnish

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and salt generously.  Drop in the penne.  Cook according to package directions.

Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat and add the garlic and chili flakes.  Cook for about 1 minute, adjusting the heat if necessary to avoid burning the garlic.  Add the anchovies and stir for another minute, or until they begin to break down.  Add the capers and olives, crushing them gently with the back of a wooden spoon, and cook for 1 minute, or until quite fragrant --- it should smell divine.  Stir in the tomato sauce and black pepper.  Turn the heat to high, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium and let it bubble for about 10 minutes, or until quite thickened.  The penne should be perfectly cooked at this point.  Drain pasta, reserving a few tablespoons of pasta cooking water.  Add pasta to the skillet with the sauce and stir to coat, adding a bit of the pasta cooking water if necessary to get the sauce to the right consistency.  It shouldn't be too thick, but also not too soupy.  Scatter the parsley over pasta, add a bit more fresh black pepper, and serve.

When I'm preparing to cook something, I always keep organized to ensure that I am following the directions perfectly.  I organized the garlic and red pepper flakes together in a bowl, then the anchovies in a separate bowl, and finally the olives and capers.  It is so much easier to follow a new recipe when I do this so I add the right ingredients together and in the correct order.

You can see that I lined up my different ingredients next to the stove so that I'm ready to add them in.

I added the cooked pasta directly into my pot of sauce with a slotted spoon.  I learned to do this from watching a lot of Giada on Food Network.  It reduces the dishes you have to wash since you don't have to clean a separate colander or strainer!  Another tip I learned on watching a lot of Food Network is to cook the pasta based on the cooking directions but reduce the cook time by 1 minute.  You want to be able to cook the pasta pretty al dente so you can finish off the cooking process in the sauce.  The pasta will then soak up the flavors from the sauce and your dish will taste even better.

This pasta dish pairs really well with a glass of red vino.  


Kathy said...

Next time I want pasta, I'm going to make this! =)

vicki said...

I love puttanescas! Next time, try adding the lemon preserves and the sauce will just pop with great brightness^^ The first dish that made me fall in love with preserved lemons was a puttenesca type dish that my bro made with preserved lemons. It was actually the recipe that I used for my Food Network Star video clip. I'll email it to you;P

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