In a hurry for dinner? Pasta is your friend. This pasta dish with olives, tomatoes, and capers (or pasta puttanesca) has a slightly racy name. Nobody really knows why. One theory says the dish was popular with the ladies of the evening because it was easy to cook and the ingredients were cheap. Another says that the sauce’s aroma helped lure in customers.
Whatever the reason, it certainly is budget friendly and you can make it in about 20 minutes.
Whoever is responsible created a dish that’s packed with flavor. There’s pungent little bits of garlic, slightly briny capers, and nutty Niçoise olives.
Capers, in case you don’t know, are the buds of a Mediterranean plant that are picked and then pickled (try to say that three times fast). I always thought Niçoise olives were a variety, but I found out today that they’re really called Le Calletier. Niçoise is just the method of curing them.
I adapted this recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook. They suggested using whole canned tomatoes, and then squeezing them out and chopping them up. That’s too messy for me. You can use crushed tomatoes, purée, or even tomato sauce in a pinch.
Traditionally, this recipe also includes anchovies. However, I am a fish wimp. The strongest fish flavor I like is salmon. Also, anchovies were $32 a pound. Nope. Not happening. Nuh uh.
The other great thing about pasta puttanesca is that you can use canned tomatoes, jarred capers, dry pasta, and spices you probably already have sitting on your shelf.
Save the rest of the tomatoes for pasta alla norma.
The remaining capers will keep indefinitely in the fridge once opened. They’re great with smoked salmon, lemon, and dill for a weekend brunch.
More Pasta Recipes