Behind the Lace Curtains-Sunday Dinner, Spaghetti Puttanesca

It’s Sunday.  You need to make dinner, but you’re tired and don’t really want to spend a lot of time and effort cooking.  Instead of heading to a fast-food joint and eating something that resembles food, or ordering pizza again, try this quick recipe.  Accounts vary on how the recipe came to be, but researchers universally agree that it’s a twentieth-century dish coming from Naples. Some attribute prostitutes (puttana) as the inspiration, but others dispute the claim, stating that it translates to “take any garbage from the cupboard and put it on the table.”  And that’s the nice version! Regardless of its origins, it’s easy and filling, and best of all, you probably already have the ingredients in your pantry.

1 lb. spaghetti
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper*
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 to 1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes (I use 1/4 t. because I don’t like too much heat, if you like heat, go for the 1/2 t.!)
6 rinsed anchovies (optional, and common in the Lazio area of Italy)
1, 28-oz. can whole tomatoes and their juice
2 T. capers
1/2 c. chopped pitted Kalamata olives*

Cook spaghetti according to package instructions.  While the spaghetti is cooking, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and anchovies (if you are using them), stirring until garlic is fragrant.  Empty the tomatoes into a mixing bowl and crush the tomatoes with your hands.  Add to the skillet along with the capers and olives.  Bring to a boil then reduce the heat.  Simmer until thickened, about 5-10 minutes.  Toss with pasta and season with salt and pepper.

*If I am using Kalamata olives, I eliminate the salt.  Kalamata olives are salty enough, anyway.  I don’t use Kalamata olives often, as Jamey doesn’t like them, so I simply use plain black olives, either pre-sliced or I just slice a half a cup of whole ones out of the can.  I still tend to eliminate the salt, as it seems the plain black olives and canned tomatoes have plenty for my taste!

If you’re a Titanic fan (the 1997 version), you will hear Jack’s Italian buddy, Fabrizio, yell “puttanata!” throughout the movie.  Take a look at what’s going on, and then you’ll figure out what the word means!  Or, Google works just as good.

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