Some nights a light, refreshing pasta dish is in order. Not tonight. Tonight I wanted something with punch and twang. I wanted capers, I wanted anchovies, I wanted olives – I wanted Puttanesca.
The anchovies and olives will add the salt to this sauce – the capers are pivotal – the piquant edge they add to the rich sauce is sublime.
Here’s what you’ll need
- 8 anchovies – I used a can of anchovies in olive oil – this is fine for this dish but make sure you use the olive oil they are stored in
- 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced – I like this dish when I can see the garlic slices
- 1 handful of black olives, chopped in half
- 1 handful of capers, drained
- 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes
- 1 can chopped tomatoes – you can use fresh tomatoes if you like but really, with this dish a good quality can of tomatoes is more authentic (and better in my opinion)
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
Heat the oil in a pan and add the garlic, chilli and anchovies. Keep the oil on a medium heat – the garlic should cook and the anchovies should break down but the garlic should not brown. After a couple of minutes, add the tomato. Cook the sauce for 10 minutes and then start to cook your pasta.
I prefer dried pasta with this dish as it will have more bite. Cook the pasta in a large pan in a rolling boil with a decent twist of salt. If you want to add a splash of olive oil to the pasta by all means do so if you want to waste perfectly good oil – I really don’t see what adding oil to cooking pasta achieves. The oil will float on the surface and do nothing for the pasta. As long as you mix your pasta and sauce quickly enough, your pasta wont stick.
Cook your pasta until it’s just about done – it should seem slightly underdone bearing in mind it will continue to cook after you take it out of the water and add the sauce.
Add the olives and capers to the sauce and stir in. Now add the sauce to the pasta and mix.
Serve in bowls with a splash of decent quality extra virgin olive oil.
I don’t even bother with salt or pepper in this dish as the ingredients are full of flavour.
It doesn’t need cheese grating on it and I don’t think herbs add anything to it – this is a big, full-flavoured dish. Don’t try to refine it.
By John Loydall