PAUOA, Hawai‘i – Artfully crafted with simple ingredients, there is nothing unwholesome about this pasta dish, except perhaps for its name.
Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca roughly translates to “whore’s spaghetti.” Some say it got its name because it was a cheap and easy meal prostitutes could prepare between customers. Others say the name was derived from the word Puttanata, or garbage, because it can be made from items lying around the pantry.
We were given this handwritten recipe by Stefano Salvadori, the proprietor of Academia Del Buon Gusto (The School of Good Taste) in Panzano in Chianti. It is among our most cherished treasures from a fond trip to Italy this spring. The sweetness of the Marzano tomatoes are perfectly balanced by the briny anchovies, capers, and olives making for a sinfully savory dish!
When shopping for the ingredients, try to find Marzano tomatoes – they are sweeter and have fewer seeds than the typical canned tomatoes. R. Field Wine Company sells them. Also, get capers preserved in salt. The first time we made the dish, we used some salt-preserved capers we had purchased at a farmer’s market in Greve in Chianti. When cooked, they plumped to the size of blueberries! On our next trip we’ll bring back more as the plump ones are hard to find here in Hawai‘i.
This dish will tantalize your taste buds fresh off the burner but is even better the next day. Buon appetito!
Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca
2 cans of San Marzano tomatoes (broken up)
1 ounce of anchovy paste
1/2 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 T of olive oil
2 T of red wine vinegar
2 T of capers, rinsed
1 lb. of spaghetti
1/2 cup of Kalamata olives
Basil leaves, cut into ribbons
Sautee onions and garlic in olive oil until onions are golden. Add anchovy paste and blend. Add tomatoes, vinegar & capers. Bring to a boil. Add olives and simmer for 35-40 minutes. Meanwhile, boil water, add pasta & cool ‘til al dente. Serve sauce over pasta and garnish with basil.