NeNe's Puttanesca Sauce Recipe___


spaghetti alla puttanesca

This is my sister NeNe's quick, easy and distinctive puttanesca sauce recipe.  Try it on a brunch or luncheon buffet.  Also good as a sit-down dinner party entree

For a small buffet, use a chafing dish, caterers' pan and rack or electric skillet to keep warm. 

For a larger buffet, also consider using small tubular pasta. It will be easier to serve and over time, will not clump together as spaghetti will.

Make Ahead Puttanesca Sauce
The sauce can be made up to two days in advance or can be frozen for up to one month



About Anchovies

These little bitty fish with the great big smell are a mainstay of many home cooks.  When minced and sautéed in oil, they add a savory, but not fishy, quality to sauces and salad dressings. 

In the supermarket, they come packed in olive oil and in salt.  Oil-packed anchovies (the little flat tins) are cleaned, filleted and ready to use.

Salt-packed anchovies must be rinsed, de-boned and filleted before using.  The oil packed variety is easier to find and probably more popular in taste

Anchovy paste is ground anchovy fillets packaged in small tubes.  It is generally available in the condiment section of the grocery store.  One-half teaspoon of anchovy paste is equal to about 2 anchovy fillets.



Ne Ne's Puttanesca Sauce Recipe
Serves 4-6, easily doubles

1 pound spaghetti
3 medium cloves garlic, very finely minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
8 anchovy fillets, minced; (about one tin, oil-packed)
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained; reverse juice to moisten sauce at the end of cooking
3 tablespoons capers, rinsed
1/2 cup black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped; preferably kalamata, gaeta or oil-cured
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cook spaghetti according to package directions.  While pasta is cooking, in large skillet over medium heat, heat oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and anchovies.  Cook, stirring frequently until garlic is fragrant but not browned, about 2-3 minutes. 

Stir in tomatoes and simmer until slightly thickened, about 8-10 minutes.   Stir in capers, olives and parsley.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Transfer pasta to serving dish.  Pour sauce over pasta and toss to combine.


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tomatoes on a cutting board

"Puttanata" is an Italian word which means something "worthless".  It derives from the Italian word for whore, "puttana"

There are many accounts of the origins of this dish. 

One tale tells of a mid-20th century restauranteur who was low on ingredients at the end of a busy dinner rush. 

A table of insistent diners uttered  "Facci una puttanata
qualsiasi," or "make any kind of garbage"

The restauranteur undoubtedly prided himself on quality customer service and whipped up a sauce from only tomatoes, olives and capers.  He later included the dish on his menu as
"spaghetti alla puttanesca" or "spaghetti of the whore"