Introduction: Pasta Puttanesca (Hooker's Pasta)

This is a wonderful pasta dish that is both quick and simple to prepare. It is easy to keep the ingredients on hand which makes it a great weeknight meal. According to legend this dish gets its name from the Italian women of the night, called puttanas, that would prepare and eat this meal quickly between clients. This seems like a likely explanation to me because it is definitely quick to prepare and all ingredients used are commonly found in any Italian kitchen.

Step 1: Ingredients

You will need:

  • 1 lb spaghetti, linguine, or angel hair
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 small tin of oil packed anchovy filets
  • 1 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 3 14.5 oz cans petite diced tomatoes OR 2 ¾ cups diced fresh tomatoes
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • (optional) shredded parmesan cheese
  • (optional) chopped parsley

If you prefer a more runny pasta sauce puree the tomatoes in a blender or food processor.

Step 2:

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. This recipe works best with long, thin pasta (I prefer spaghetti) but any pasta will do. While waiting for the water to boil begin preparing the sauce.

  • Be sure to monitor the pasta while it cooks to make sure it doesn’t boil over and stir occasionally.

Step 3:

Mash the anchovies with a fork. This helps the anchovies incorporate into the sauce. These anchovies came wrapped around capers but normally they are laid out lengthwise in the tin. Simply transfer the filets and the oil to a small dish and mash them with the back of a fork. The texture may seem strange if you have never cooked with anchovies before, but don't worry. Picky eaters won’t even notice there are anchovies in the dish and they add a great savory flavor.

  • This dish can be made vegan by substituting the anchovies for another ingredient that adds umami (savory) flavor, such as mushrooms or low-sodium soy sauce.

Step 4:

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Saute the garlic, mashed anchovies, olives, and capers until the garlic is golden and fragrant.

Step 5:

Add the tomatoes and red pepper flakes.

  • If you’re using canned tomatoes it’s helpful to open the cans ahead of time. Open them carefully and dispose of the lids right away because they can be quite sharp.

Step 6:

Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer the sauce over medium high heat, stirring frequently.

Step 7:

Reduce the sauce until the tomato juice has thickened and the tomatoes have cooked down. The sauce should be finished reducing at around the same time the pasta is done.

Step 8:

Ladle the sauce over the pasta and garnish with parmesan and parsley if desired.

Serve immediately. Leftovers are best kept in portions of both pasta and sauce and keep well for up to 3 days. Serves 5-6.

I like to serve this pasta with toasted ciabatta baguette slices and salad with oil and vinegar dressing. It is also even more delicious with fresh tomatoes.

If you have any questions or comments you would like to share, don't hesitate to leave a comment! I hope you enjoy this recipe, and I look forward to your feedback.

Comments

author
140137 made it! (author)2017-06-05

In my family we omitted the tomatoes and red pepper flake. Have no idea why. Yhis was the way my grandmother made it in italy.

author
alanjamesblair made it! (author)2016-03-10

Yum!

author
alanjamesblair made it! (author)alanjamesblair2016-03-10

Also, I love the note about making it Vegan. I'll still add cheese, but as a vegetarian, I really appreciate that note.

author
alanjamesblair made it! (author)alanjamesblair2016-03-10

Also, I love the note about making it Vegan. I'll still add cheese, but as a vegetarian, I really appreciate that note.

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