I did some research on the name of the dish – it literally translates to “whore’s style pasta.” I was interested as to why would a dish be called “whore’s style…” anything…And after some research, I found that the true origin of the name is still up to debate: it could be that the prostitutes in Naples made this quick sauce in between meeting their johns; one particularly distressing story has it that the reputable housewives would make sauce, and then with whatever was left over, dump on the hookers that would walk by, screaming “whore!”
(above – sorry about the blurry photo - it was done on the spur of the moment on my ancient camera phone)
Whatever the origin, it’s a great and super-easy recipe to make. I made some changes, on the request of my partner, but Ms. Ray is the inspiration…
Pasta alla puttanesca – serves 2
3 Roma tomatoes - cut in half
1 medium-sized zucchini – cut length-wise and then quartered
2 fillets of anchovy – chopped finely
1 tbl of capers – chopped finely
1/4 cup of sun-dried tomatoes – chopped finely
Red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
Dried Italian herbs
pasta – for this recipe, I used spinach-flavored penne.
Start this about an hour before you’re ready to serve. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Farenheit. In a bowl hand toss the cut tomatoes and zucchini with a drizzle of olive oil. Throw tin a pinch of dried Italian herbs and a good grinding of pepper and hand toss, to make sure the vegetables are covered.
Take a lined baking sheet and place a cooling rack on it. Put the vegetables, cut-side down and put in the oven and roast for about an hour, turning over once halfway through the roasting.
After an hour, remove and place back into the bowl. With a potato masher, or the blunt end of a meat tenderizer, crush the vegetables. You could also use a pestle and mortar. Be very careful, though – the tomatoes are full of liquid, that can shoot at you.
Set a pot of water on high heat and wait until rolling boil, salt water and drizzle some oil and drop the pasta in and cook according to directions on the packet, shaving off maybe three minutes.
In a skillet drizzle oil making sure the bottom is covered. Heat over medium heat and wait until oil is hot, shimmery. Drop in the anchovy and mix with a wooden spoon for about 5, 10 minutes. Sprinkle some of the red pepper flakes, to taste, and cook for about 5 more minutes. Drop in the pulverized vegetables and stir continually and heat through. Lower the flame to medium-low, and add the garlic, pepper and a bit of salt (not too much because of the anchovy). Also throw in the chopped capers as well. Cook and stir continuously.
Once the pasta is done drain, reserving about a cup of the cooking liquid. Take the cooking liquid and drizzle, continuously stirring, to make sure that the pasta doesn’t get water-logged. Drop the pasta into the sauce and stir. Serve with cheese. Oh and enjoy.
p.s. this is a bit of a cheat for meatless Mondays – there’s anchovy, but it’s only 2 fillets…