Saturday, January 23, 2010

Whole Wheat Pasta Puttanesca

Pasta Puttanesca originated in Naples, Italy and literally translates to "Whore's Pasta" in Italian. Oh those Italians :) Supposedly the prostitutes would cook their Puttanesca and hope that the scent would lure in fisherman on their way home for a bite of food and then some. Regardless of where and how the name and the dish originated, it's easily one of my favorites and I love how you can make the sauce rather healthy and light.

Many recipes call for a lot of oil, and thus make it more of an oil/tomato based sauce instead of a tomato based sauce. This is probably more traditional, but I like it my way much better. It doesn't make me feel guilty staring a layer of oil over my pasta before I consume it. And it tastes so good!!

You can omit the anchovies if you want to make it vegetarian, although it's traditional and I think it adds a nice layer of flavor to the sauce. You can also easily use regular (non whole wheat) pasta instead, but if you use a whole pound it will not be very saucy. I'd suggest either cutting back on the pasta to about 3/4 of a pound, or double the sauce recipe for a pound of pasta and make it extra saucy (or have some leftover sauce... freeze it or serve it with fish the next day for a whole new meal!)

Whole Wheat Pasta Puttanesca
Serves 4-6
(Printable Version)

1 13.25-oz box whole wheat pasta (penne and spaghetti are most common shapes for this sauce)
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. anchovy paste
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup roughly chopped pitted kalamata olives
2 tsp. non-pareil capers, drained
Kosher salt, to taste

Heat up olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes and sweat the vegetables until nice and soft but not starting to brown. Add the anchovy paste (I think it's easier to just use the paste rather than buy a whole tin of anchovies just for a small amount), and mix it around, then add the crushed tomatoes, olives, and capers.

Cook the sauce for about 10-15 minutes to develop the flavors. Taste the sauce and add salt as needed. This will be a relatively salty sauce to begin with because of the anchovies, olives, and capers so be careful not to over season.

Meanwhile bring a pot of water to a boil. Salt it generously, add the pasta, and cook until al dente. Drain and then toss with the sauce until nicely coated. Serve hot.

Served with some breaded and baked chicken breast for a tasty meal!


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