Pasta alla Puttanesca is an old Italian dish that literally translates as “pasta as if made by a whore”, at least according to whomever last edited the Wikipedia page in its honour. I stumbled across Nigella Lawson’s version a little while ago, was shocked/enamored with the name (she calls it “Slut’s Spaghetti“), and knew I had to make it.
Now, I need to give a bit of a disclaimer here, and I hope you don’t laugh at me. You see, I’m a little bit, let’s say…inexperienced? I mean, technically, this was my first time. Before last night…well, I’d never cooked with either anchovies or capers! You figured that’s what I was talking about, right?
Sorry, it’s just that ever since deciding to make this dish, the name has been playing around in my head. It totally reminds me of a winery my wife and I visited recently on a trip to B.C.’s Okanagan. The winery is called “Dirty Laundry”, and is named after a former establishment in the region (in Summerland, to be exact) that not only provided clothes laundering downstairs, but certain other “dirty” services upstairs. The winery by no means carries on that tradition (i.e. it’s neither a brothel nor a laundromat), but simply has a bit of fun within the boundaries of their ambience, labelling and wine naming. To see what I mean, check out their site: www.dirtylaundry.ca.
Anyways, I decided to take the Dirty Laundry sort of approach with this dish and have a bit of fun. I think you’ll be able to tell from the photos, with the dish resting on bed sheets along with a bottle of Strut red wine (our last Dirty Laundry bottle is long gone, so I went for a bottle with sexy long legs on the label), a spilled glass of said wine (with lipstick marks, of course), and an extra special item or two.
Whole Wheat Pasta alla Puttanesca
Mildly adapted from “Slut’s Spaghetti” by Nigella Lawson
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 50 gm. tin of anchovies (approximately 9 fillets), diced
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp. red chilli flakes
- 14 fl. oz. can of diced tomatoes
- 14 fl. oz. can of sliced black olives, drained
- 2 tbsp. small capers, rinsed and drained
- salt to taste (and pepper, of desired)
- small bunch chopped parsley, for garnish
- 500 gm. whole wheat spaghetti (or an alternate type of pasta, if desired)
- Put a pot of salted water on to boil. This will be for the pasta.
- Add olive oil to a skillet or large sized pan or wok, and place on medium heat. If using a shallow enamel-coated cast iron braiser like I did (I use my Le Creuset braiser for EVERYTHING), opt for a slightly lower setting for the element.
- Add the anchovies to the pan and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring often and pressing the fish into a bit of a pulp.
- Add garlic and chilli flakes, and cook for another minute.
- Add the tomatoes, olives, and capers, and cook for roughly 10 minutes, stirring occasional.
- Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook until desired tenderness (times usually indicated on the package).
- Once the sauce has thickened slightly and the pasta has been cooked and drained, season with salt (and pepper, if desired). Then, add the pasta to the sauce and toss to combine.
- Serve as per Nigella’s suggestion, “slatternly”, and garnish with a bit of parsley if you so desire.
As I’m hitting new heights of success with my little blog here, I wanted to give a little shout out of thanks to those who have visited so far, and especially to those who have commented time and again. You’re encouragement is greatly appreciated. That’s not what the “thank you” card in the pictures is all about, but we can pretend for a moment that that actually is the case, right?
Anyways, until next time – happy cooking!