Confession: When I make this sauce, I throw it together at lunchtime just so I can smell it cooking in my kitchen all afternoon. Olives, anchovies, garlic, capers and tomatoes: a combination that smells absolutely amazing at it simmers gently on the stove. Once the ingredients are chopped, it takes minutes to put together and then I just let it bubble away on the stove, stirring occasionally, tasting frequently. Don’t let the anchovies freak you out. They’re an umami-powerhouse, melting into the sauce and adding a dimension of complexity you just won’t get without them.
This is top 10 pasta recipes in our house. It’s up there with my favorite spaghetti and meatballs and sausage and broccoli rabe. The kids will eat the sauce, but tend to pick out the olives and capers (which they think are little peas until they taste them. Then the noses scrunch up and I get the yucky face before they pick the rest out. I’ll keep trying…)
Serve the puttanesca over whatever pasta you have on hand, in this case linguine. (Or just eat it with a spoon. It’s that good!) But I’ve done it with penne, rigatoni, bucatini… you name it. Tear the basil into the sauce about 10 minutes before serving so the flavors can blend but the basil is still fresh and on its best behavior. And since my husband cannot have a meal without protein, I serve it with grilled Italian sausage or some shrimp.
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tsp. anchovy paste
- 1 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
- Pinch dried red pepper flakes
- 3 tbsp capers, drained
- 2 (28 oz) cans whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, torn
- 1 pound pasta of your choice, cooked according to package directions
- Put a large saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the garlic and anchovy paste and cook, until the garlic is softened and the anchovy paste melt into the oil. Add the olives, red pepper flakes, and capers, and let that cook for 3 minutes, stirring often.
- Add the tomatoes with their juices and bring to a low simmer. Simmer for about 30 minutes, or longer, stirring occasionally. While your pasta cooks, tear the basil into the sauce and stir. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
- Toss sauce with pasta and serve.