Ah… puttanesca. A dish I could eat every single day of the week. I only found out recently that the Italian to English translation is ‘whore’s pasta’, although origin stories vary… I assume the tale that it originated in brothels is the most likely of them all. Nevertheless, the combination of the olivers, capers and anchovies is a drool-fest, as well as being wonderfully simple to put together.
The key to making this even more excellent than normal is to make your own sauce by roasting some half cherry toms with dried herbs. Of course you can use a tin of chopped tomatoes, but at least promise me that you will give this a go just once… you won’t regret it.
Mr Hangry Em and I have spaghetti with the roasted tomato sauce at least once a week, as anchovies and capers aren’t always in the cupboard (obviously), so you can also say this is a 2 for 1 recipe. Don’t say I don’t look out for you.
Recipe feeds 2
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 1 hour
500g cherry tomatoes (plum tomatoes will be equally delicious)
1 heaped tsp dried oregano
1 heaped tsp dried thyme
1 heaped tsp chilli flakes
3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
A handful of olives, finely chopped
3 tsp of drained capers (although adjust to taste – I love capers so will sneak in another tsp)
4 anchovies, finely chopped
200g pasta (snobby recommendation – De Cecco is THE BEST spaghetti, it really is worth the cost for this dish)
Chopped parsely, for garnish
Wash your tomatoes and then chop them in half, then fitting them in a snug tray. Add your sliced garlic and all of the dried herbs and chilli flakes, and then drizzle with olive oil – maximum 2 tbsp worth is all you will need as the tomatoes will roast in their own juices. Get your hands in there and make sure the herbs are evenly spread over the tomatoes, and then season with salt and pepper.
Place in a preheated oven (200 degrees c) for 45 minutes until they blister and begin to break down. Keep an eye on them whilst they are cooking as you don’t want them to burn, and an occasional stir will make sure they roast evenly. Pop a large saucepan of water on to boil, making sure you salt it, ready for the pasta.
Try not to have a hanger breakdown whilst the tomatoes are roasting… the smell is INCREDIBLE. You will need to summon all will power to not just smooth the tomatoes on some bread and call it a day.
When the tomatoes are bubbling and blistered, take them out of the oven and allow them to cool for 10 minutes – they will be reheated in the pan later, but for now I want to avoid sending you to A+E for tomato burns. Yes we have a bit of danger in this recipe chaps! Got to keep you on your toes! When the tomatoes have cooled, GENTLY press down on them with a potato masher. GENTLY! The bubbly toms will squirt lava at you should you press too hard, so please, please be careful.
You will now have a gorgeous tomato sauce that you can add to some cooked spaghetti and wolf down in minutes, although continue reading for levelling up this dish to puttanesca.
In a frying pan or shallow casserole pan, pop a lug of olive oil on a medium heat. At this point you will likely want to pop your pasta in the boiling water (pretty please cook al dente!).
Add the finely chopped anchovies and allow them to disintegrate in the oil for a minute, and then throw in the capers and chopped olives, gently heating them through.
Pour in your roasted tomato sauce, mixing all of the ingredients together, and then bring the heat down low to allow the anchovies, olives and capers to infuse into the tomato sauce.
When your pasta is ready, reserve a little of the cooking water in a mug, drain, and then through into the sauce. Evenly coat the pasta in the sauce, and little by little, add some of the cooking water until you have the consistency you like… for me a shot glass worth tends to do it (not that I have shot glasses to hand, promise).
Sprinkle on some chopped parsley for garnish, and then serve with lots of parmesan, pepper, and a glass of red wine (not optional).