I’ve never been a big fan of puttanesca pasta, but it’s one my good friend Kerri’s favorites, and I think of her every time I see it on a menu. I’ve always wanted to like it, and on paper, it makes sense that I should. It’s got garlic, onions, tomatoes, and anchovies: so why didn’t I like it when they all came together in a sauce?
With this recipe, I seem to have fixed the issue. Most importantly, I got rid of the capers, a traditional, briny ingredient that I think was causing most of my problems. The other quick fix that I found immensely helpful was pureeing the sauce into a marinara-like consistency. A traditional puttanesca sauce is kind of like a stew: there a bunch of discrete bits and pieces that blend together over time and the flavors meld, but each bite doesn’t necessarily capture the whole dish at once. Making a sauce with a uniform texture is the perfect solution and will also help others who might be hesitant about adding anchovies or olives to their pasta.
Spaghetti with a puttanesca puree
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 anchovies, in oil
2 15-ounce cans of diced tomatoes
15 Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
1 pound dried spaghetti
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1) Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes, until it begins to soften. Stir in the garlic and anchovies. Continue to stir and cook over medium heat until the anchovies dissolve, about another 3-5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and Kalamata olives to the skillet. Stir until the tomatoes are warmed through and start to break down.
2) Working in batches, transfer the tomato mixture to a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth and uniform in texture.
3) Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a roiling boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions, about 9 minutes. Drain the pasta in a colander and return the noodles to the pot. Top with sauce, add the Parmesan cheese, and stir to combine. Re-warm over low heat if needed.