Wednesday, January 27, 2010

celebrating a recovery by revelling in some scrumptuous dishes - recipe: spaghetti puttanesca in 11 minutes

If you read my last column, you might recall that earlier this month I had my wisdom teeth removed. During my recovery, I spent many of my waking hours considering what I’d prepare once I was finally able to chew again.

Let’s just say that my husband has been a happy camper of late. We both love Italian food, so that’s what I’ve been focusing my efforts on. Our first meal was a hearty and comforting polenta served with 2 sauces: a meaty Bolognese and a tomato basil. For the tomato basil sauce, I took a tip from a client and reduced (by half) our tomato basil soup over high heat. It only took about 10 minutes and was delicious.

I also made one of David’s favourite pasta’s – spaghetti with aglio, oilo e peperoncino (spaghetti with garlic, olive oil and pepper). It’s as good as its ingredients are simple and its preparation easy.

Another favourite, and a new recipe for me, was pork chops with vinegar & peppers. David put a copy of Cooks Illustrated magazine, their Italian Favourites special issue (hint, hint, wink, wink…) in my Christmas stocking this year, which is where I found the recipe. I loved this dish – and I knew that David would too, as he has a full-blown obsession with vinegar.

Lastly, I prepared spaghetti puttanesca in 11 minutes, (said to have been created by the Neapolitan ladies of the night) also from the same special issue of Cooks Illustrated. We quite enjoyed the flavours but found that the pasta tasted even better the next day.

Cook’s Illustrated Spaghetti Puttanesca in 11 Minutes

serves: 4 to 6


  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • table salt
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 teaspoons minced anchovies (I used anchovy paste)
  • 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained, ½ (one half) cup juice reserved
  • 3 tablespoons capers
  • ½ cup good quality black olives, pitted and chopped coarse
  • ¼ cup minced fresh parsley leaves


  • Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large stockpot. Meanwhile, mix garlic with 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl; set aside. When water is boiling, add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta, stir to separate pasta.
  • Immediately heat oil, garlic mixture, red pepper flakes and anchovies in a large skillet over medium heat, cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is fragrant but not brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and simmer until slightly thickened, about 8 minutes.
  • Cook pasta until al dente. Drain, then return pasta to pot; add ¼ cup reserved tomato juice and toss to combine.
  • Stir capers, olives and parsley into sauce. Pour sauce over pasta and toss to combine, adding more tomato juice to moisten if necessary. Adjust seasonings with salt; serve immediately.

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