Thursday, September 16, 2010


   This isn't the most traditional recipe for puttanesca sauce, but is sure is tasty!  An interesting little tidbit about spaghetti alla puttanesca is that it literally translates into "whore's spaghetti".  In the 1950's Italy's brothels were state owned and had to keep all the shutters closed so as to not allow street views or invite corruption to small towns.  The sauce served two purposes: 1) make a lot of food quickly from cheap odds and ends to feed the house girls and 2) entice passersby seeking pleasures of the night with its distinct vinegary scent.  As far as innovative dishes go, puttanesca caught on quickly with the "respectable" crowds and made its way on to Neapolitan menus by the 1960's.

3 slices bacon, cut into lardons (or chopped; leave out for vegetarian)
1 medium onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 dozen mushrooms (button or crimini), diced or sliced
2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp garlic
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (add more if you like it really spicy)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (omit if you want it mild)
1/3 C black olives, chopped or sliced
1/3 C green olives, chopped or diced
1/4 C capers (plus 2 tsp of capers' liquid)
1 lb pasta (penne, spaghetti, whatever... cooked according to package directions)

Render bacon over medium heat.  Add onion and carrots, saute until soft (7-10 minutes).  Add mushrooms, cook for 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes, garlic, thyme, oregano, paprika, red pepper flakes, and cayenne.  Simmer over medium for about 10 minutes.  Toss in olives and capers, heat for another minute.  Toss with pasta.

Tip:  The sauce before the olives and capers is good all on its own.  Also, it freezes really well.  To freeze, make the tomato sauce without the olives and capers and seal in an airtight container.  When reheating, add the capers and olives a few minutes before serving.

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