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Pasta alla Puttanesca

In this classic pasta dish, the bold flavors of olives, anchovies and capers are incorporated into a simple tomato sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes 
  • 1 can (28 oz.) plum tomatoes, drained and chopped 
  • 1 tsp. plus 2 Tbs. sea salt, plus more, to taste 
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
  • 6 to 8 olive oil–packed anchovy fillets, chopped 
  • 1/4 cup chopped pitted Gaeta or other Mediterranean-style black olives 
  • 2 Tbs. chopped rinsed capers 
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 
  • 1 lb. penne or other pasta  

Directions:

In a large fry pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté until the garlic is lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, the 1 tsp. salt and a pinch of black pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 20 minutes. Add the anchovies, olives, capers and parsley and simmer for about 1 minute more. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

While the sauce simmers, bring a large pot three-fourths full of water to a rolling boil and add the 2 Tbs. salt. Add the penne, stir well and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, according to the package instructions. Scoop out and reserve about 2 ladlefuls of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.

Add the drained pasta to the sauce in the pan and stir and toss over low heat until well coated with the sauce, adjusting the consistency with some of the cooking water if needed. Transfer to a warmed serving bowl and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Italian by Michele Scicolone (Oxmoor House, 2007).