Linguine Puttanesca

February 5, 2009

Although not considered traditional Italian fare, pasta alla puttanesca has engendered a devoted urban following. The name originated in Naples (home to the award winning film, Gommorah) and when translated apparently means “pasta the way a whore would make it.” So, I retract my opening assertion about “traditional fare,” as that profession is often considered the world’s oldest.


Sea salt
3 tablespoons olive oil

4 plump fresh garlic cloves, peeled and gently smashed
2 premium quality anchovy fillets, preferably salt cured

1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 C pitted black olives, preferably oil cured
½ lemon, juiced
1 T capers, drained and rinsed
Crushed red pepper flakes

1 pound linguine
Freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
Chopped fresh parsley, oregano, marjoram or basil leaves, for garnish

Bring pot of generously salted water to boil.

Soak salt cured anchovies in milk for 20 minutes. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil with garlic and anchovies in skillet over medium low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is lightly golden, but not brown. Burned garlic turns unsavory, bitter.

Drain tomatoes and crush with fork or cut coarsely with scissors while in can. Add to skillet, with some salt and pepper. Raise heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes break down and mixture becomes saucy, about 10 minutes. Stir in olives, lemon juice, capers and red pepper flakes, and continue to simmer.

Cook pasta, stirring occasionally, until it is al dente. Drain quickly and toss with sauce and remaining tablespoon of oil. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary, garnish with parmigiano and herbs, then serve.


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