Last night I felt like making a pasta recipe for dinner and so I decided to make a classic Italian pasta recipe from Campania, Italy called pasta puttanesca! The pasta of the whore’s! Also called pasta alla putan or pasta alla putana’s. In literal terms pasta puttanesca means “the way a whore would make it.”
There are many stories as to how pasta puttanesca came into being as a pasta recipe. In it’s most literal sense it was the pasta dish that the “ladies of ill repute” or the “ladies of the night” even though they also worked the day shift would make and eat between servicing their patrons.
There is another version of the story that goes like this: pasta puttanesca was made in the whore houses or brothels and that as the sauce would cook the wonderful aroma of the puttanesca sauce would waft through the streets would entice and attract the local men to the front door of the brothel. Now to me that sounds a bit romanticized, but it is a true fact of nature that “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!” I would venture to say that between the two versions of the stories of how pasta puttanesca came into being as a pasta recipe, that someplace the two stories will meet in the middle. This pasta recipe is not an “old” recipe that goes back hundreds of years, rather it is a contemporary Italian dish that was created in the 1940’s during the WW2 era.
There are two cities in Italy that make the claim to fame for pasta puttanesca and they are Campania and Lazio. There is no way to really tell which city made it first or which story really goes to which city, but either way this is a delicious pasta recipe that I think everyone should try if they’ve never had it. As with many dishes in this world in Italy everyone makes puttanesca a bit differently. Sometimes it is spicy and sometimes it is not. Some people will add some sugar and some will not. This pasta recipe can range from tangy to spicy to salty. If you are like me you will try to make your puttanesca in such a way as to have all of the tastes expressed! This is what I strive for when I make pasta puttanesca for myself or for others.
In Italian, the puttanesca sauce is called “Sugo Alla Puttanesca.” Traditionally, puttanesca is served with common spaghetti but it goes good with just about any kind of pasta from fusili to regate to fettucine! I love to eat puttanesca with my favorite pasta called bucatini. There is an Americanized version of pasta puttanesca that uses onion in the sauce and this is not the traditional Italian way so I would say to avoid doing it that way and I don’t use onions in my puttanesca recipe ever! In some traditional puttanesca recipes some will just before serving the pasta puttanesca will add cooked tuna or cooked salmon to the puttanesca sauce just before that sauce goes on the pasta of choice and this is done to add some protein to the dish as well as another layer of flavor and aroma.
For this pasta recipe I will be making the puttanesca with a pasta called orecchiette, a pasta that is shaped like tiny little bowls of pasta that really take the sauce and holds it so that you can enjoy every drop of this excellent sauce. So in this video I will be making Pasta Alla Puttanesca De Orecchiette! Enjoy!
1 Lb pasta. (Any kind will do, spaghetti, penne, fusili, bucatini etc.)
5 cloves of garlic finely chopped.
1 can/flat of anchovies, drain the oil off of them and chop them rough or use 2-3 Tbsp. anchovy paste.
1/2 Tsp. red pepper flakes to start. If you want it spicier then use 1 Tsp and it will bring the heat.
1 can chopped black olives. You can use oil cured if you want to peel the meat from the pits or you can use kalamatas.
3Tbsp. capers drained and rinsed.
1/3 cup of olive oil.
3/4 cup fresh basil leaves roughly chopped. If you don’t have fresh then use 1Tbsp. dry to start, taste and add more if needed.
3/4 cup of basil chiffonade to add as topping to pasta before serving. You can use flat leaf parsely if you want to.
1 28 oz can of plum tomatoes that you have crushed up by hand and you can use domestic or San Marzano tomatoes.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Grated parmigiano reggiano or grana padano or any Italian grated cheese as preferred topping if wanted.
1. Heat up your large skillet (12 inch if you have one) on medium heat.
2. Add olive oil, garlic, anchovies, and red pepper flakes and saute until anchovies melt into oil and garlic softens.
3. When anchovies melt and garlic softens add olives, capers, tomatoes, black pepper, salt, basil and bring to bubblling and then simmer to desired thickness. Some people like their puttanesca on the thin side and some like it a bit more on the thick side.
4. Add 1-2 Tsp. of sugar to taste(optional)to help cut the acid of the tomatoes and red pepper flakes.
5. While your sauce is simmering put your pasta into well salted water and cook until Al Dente and then either toss the pasta with the sauce and serve or plate some pasta and top with the sauce, basil and cheese.
Hope you enjoy!