Thursday, August 12, 2010

Good, quick pasta sauce - The whores' spaghetti...Interested?

I don't know exactly why I have decided to post this recipe, at this time of year.....maybe it was the god-awful Italian food I had to eat in Houston a few weeks ago. The lasagna there actually was served still in the shape of whatever box they bought it in, but that is a whole different story. Actually, I do have to mention one other thing about it. Who the F#*K serves "mozzarella ala caprese", the simplest, easiest to make, most delicious salad ever, with half green roma tomatoes, processed SQUARE pre-made slices of a mozzarella like substance, one basil leaf, and no vinegar/oil/flavor. Seriously disappointing. I will leave out the name of the restaurant for Karma's sake, but UGH. Anyway, back to topic.

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca, literally translated to "whore's spaghetti" or harlot if you want to be a little softer, is a great, comforting, easy to make, delicious dinner. It could also come from the italian word puttanata, which means garbage, but really refers to the fact that most of the ingredients can be found in an italian pantry, and thrown together to make a meal on short notice. It is a tangy, slightly spicy, slightly salty, and utterly delicious sauce. I usually make it in colder months, but it works whenever.

Feeds Two
8 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into a large dice
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1/2 red onion, diced small
2 tsp chili flake
3 tblsp capers, chopped coarse
(i like salt packed capers, but make sure you give a very quick rinse to get some of the excess salt off. Otherwise, non-pareil will work just (almost) as well)
6 oz fresh basil, torn
6 good sized anchovy filets, chopped into a puree, or pureed if you have the equipment
20 or so Mediteranean olives, traditionally black, but I like to use a mix, pitted & chopped rough
4 tblsp olive oil
1 tblsp fresh oregano, chopped fine
4 oz stock, chicken or vegetable usually
S & P to taste

Garnish:a little chopped ITALIAN parsley, and some grated parm

1)Heat olive oil over medium heat, add onion, garlic, and chili flake. Saute until onions are translucent, or just starting to brown. Add anchovies and saute for 1 more minute, moving constantly.
2)Add tomatoes, capers, 1/2 of stock, and olives. Cook over medium heat until the tomatoes break down and achieve a sauce (almost creamy) consistency. Add more stock as needed if pan starts to dry out before you get this consistency
3)Remove from heat, and add fresh herbs, stir through, season with salt and fresh black pepper to taste, and let sit for 5 minutes or so, so that they can release their flavor

Serve over whatever pasta you like, but I think it works best with spaghetti, bucatini, or linguine.
I like to match it with some goat cheese crostini - mix a little olive oil into fresh chevre, and add a little fresh herb or lemon zest, spread on thick sliced baguette, and broil until cheese starts to brown. It is also great if you want to serve it with some sauteed shrimp, seared scallops, or even as a side for a grilled chicken dinner.

Wine pairing - For a red, I would say a chianti, nero d'avola, or a dolcetto. Just make sure it isn't too tannic of a chianti, or too juicy of a dolcetto. For a white, sauvignon blanc, or maybe a grillo. Both would be nice compliments to the spice, and acidity of the dish.

Enjoy your "streetwalker sauce", and let me know what you think. :)


  1. Chef Nick--so excited that you have this blog. I ran out today and bought the ingredients for my harlot pasta and and it was a raging success. I even marinated some chicken for dinner tomorrow. Who knows, maybe I'll get crazy and make my own stock this weekend.
    Either way, please keep the recipes and commentary coming. This pregnant home cook is always looking for new ideas to jazz up dinner for both child and husband. Charlotte was a big fan of your "Cheesy Bread" BTW.
    Much love,
    Your Favorite Surrogate Sister

  2. Glad you like everything so far. Good to hear from you. Working on your request for a big group dinner blog now.