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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pasta Puttanesca

Seasonal Recipe of the Week
Pasta Puttanesca is one of my favorite pasta dishes, and not just because the name means little whore — that’s just a fun detail. The flavors are deep and rich. It’s the anchovies, capers, and olives which combine to make a great flavor. And then there is the heat — spice not temperature, which you can adjust to your taste.

1 pound spaghetti, spaghettini, or linguine
5 garlic cloves, forced through a garlic press
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
1/2 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice (preferably organic Italian)
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons drained capers
Pinch of sugar
3/4 cup coarsely chopped basil

Cook spaghetti in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (2 1/2 Tbsp salt for 6 qt water) until barely al dente. While pasta boils, cook garlic, anchovy paste, red-pepper flakes, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and pale golden, about 2 minutes. Meanwhile, purée tomatoes with juice in a blender. Add tomato purée to garlic oil along with olives and capers and simmer, stirring occasionally, until pasta is ready. Stir in sugar if desired. Drain pasta and add to sauce. Simmer, turning pasta with tongs, until pasta is al dente, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with basil.