As I have said, on numerous occasions, I have a need to cook. Cooking relaxes me, it centers me, it makes me calm. I badly sprained my foot on Saturday. My husband was having his fifth root canal. I knew we would need to eat tonight, but also knew I would need to do something simple and easy to eat.
I went with an old stand by: Pasta Puttanesca. I often will serve it with grilled salmon or chicken, but the original recipes just calls for the sauce and the pasta. It is vegetarian, but not vegan as it has anchovies. I have to say, if you are not vegan, don’t cut the anchovies, they add a “umami” flavor. Truly, unless you use too many, you will not know they are in the sauce.
Anyway, back to the pasta puttanesca. It is a recipe, probably from the mid-twentieth century, but the “myth” around it is far more interesting. “Puttanesca” comes from the word “whore” in Italian. The myth is that prostitutes could cook this quickly and leave it on the stove to eat between customers. A similar word “puttanata” means “of no worth.” Probably closer to the truth, was a meal thrown quickly together of ingredients that were of “no worth.” Regardless, it is simple, quick and oh so good!
Almost all pantry ingredients. The parsley grows on my front porch; olive oil is always available, kalamata olive, capers, anchovies from the refrigerator and the garlic, onion and fire roasted tomatoes and penne pasta out of the pantry. Easy! I put water on to boil for the pasta, heated up the skillet and added olive oil. Diced the onion, popped it into the hot olive oil. Finely diced two garlic cloves, rinsed two tablespoons of capers, diced up two anchovies and 1/3 cup of kalamata olives.
Once the onions were cooked, I added the garlic, cooked it a couple of minutes and added the olives, the can of fire roasted tomatoes, the capers and the anchovies. Added some fresh ground black pepper. At the same time I added the penne to the boiling water and cooked for 11 minutes.
Then I added my secret ingredient:
I added about 1/8 teaspoon of hot smoked Spanish paprika. Traditionally, it calls for red pepper flakes. I am not overly found of red pepper flakes. Hot smoked paprika….on the other hand….I love! I use it for all kinds of recipes. It adds heat, a little smoke and a lovely flavor.
While the pasta was cooking and the sauce was working, I diced up some fresh parsley, tossed a salad with fresh spinach, mesclun mix with a apple/honey cider vinegar with olive oil. Once the pasta was cooked and drained, I tossed the pasta with sauce, parsley, topped with parmesan cheese and served it with the tossed green salad.
It was simple, it was tasty and allowed me to cook and enjoy a very simple supper with my husband.