While our wintry weekends are all about slow food, for our midweek meals I’m always on the lookout for the quick and easy but tasty option to keep the troops satisfied and well fed. Enter Pasta Alla Puttanesca. A robust full flavoured sauce put together in well under half an hour from Italian pantry staples. Garlic, chilli, olives, capers, anchovies and tinned tomatoes.
Originating in Naples, rumour has it that the sauce is said to have been devised by the ladies of the night as one which could be cooked quickly between clients’ visits. Indeed it’s name is derived from “puttana” Italian for prostitute or whore. Even Nigella Lawson cheekily refers to her version of this fabulous stand-by as Sluts Spaghetti. Whatever its derivation it truly is delicious. A go to recipe when I’m tired and frazzled and simply don’t know what to cook. Dinner in a flash even when I might think the pantry cupboard is bare.
Pasta Alla Puttanesca
500g dried pasta
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 red chilli finely sliced or 1 heaped teaspoon dried chilli flakes
6 anchovy fillets
2 tins (800g) chopped tomatoes, drained
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup semi dried tomatoes, sliced lengthwise into thirds
1/2 cup black olives, pitted and halved
1 tablespoon capers
1/3 cup parsley, chopped, plus a little extra for serving.
WARM olive oil in a medium-sized sauté pan on low. Add garlic, chilli and anchovy fillets. Sauté until anchovies begin to disintegrate and garlic softens.
ADD chopped and drained tinned tomatoes, sugar and balsamic. Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes.
MEANWHILE bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain reserving a ladle of the cooking water to loosen the sauce.
STIR semi sundries tomatoes, olives, capers and parsley through the sauce.
TOSS sauce with pasta and reserved ladle of cooking water. Garnish with a good sprinkling of parsley. Serve with parmesan on the side.