Like almost every bookworm millenial I had a massive obsession with Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. As many know the first book references pasta puttanesca.
At that point in my life I only wanted to eat pasta, so a dish I had never heard of before caught my attention. And then I found out it was made with anchovies and olives and 10-year-old me was OUT.
Fast forwars 13 years later. I hear the infamous origin myth of puttanesca, that it was invented by Italian prostitutes using the moat aromatic ingredients in order to lure men into the brothels with the smell of the sauce, and I knew I needed to make it. Not so much in hopes of luring a man, more that I am a sucker for a wacky story.
And to make it better, in that 13 year gap between my two spikes of interest in this dish I came to adore the strong, bright, Mediterranean flavors you find in this dish. The anchovy adds such a beautiful savoriness to the spicy tomato sauce that plays beautifully with the frutiness of the olives and tang of the capers. Whether you feel like eating like an Italian prostitute, Baudelaire orphan, or anything in between this pasta will brighten even the darkest days.
- 1/2 lb pasta
- 12 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 tin of anchovies in oil
- 1/2-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 small can sliced black olives
- 1 tbsp pickled capers
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp oil
Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the anchovies and saute or smoosh down with a fork until they are melted, about two or three minutes. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and saute until fragrant, about one minute.
Add the tomato, capers, and olives and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. During this time cook the pasta according to package instructions minus one minute.
Drain the pasta and add into the sauce, making sure to finish cooking the pasta in the sauce.