Puttanesca is not the kind of pasta sauce I have a lot of experience with. I’ve had it here and there — including on vacation last year — but never actually made it myself. So, when I stumbled upon a recipe for Pepper Puttanesca Sauce in Monday To Friday Pasta by Michele Urvater (page 48), I figured I would give it a shot. And it turned out pretty great. Better yet, it was really easy to make.
To make this recipe all you need is garlic, a few bell peppers (the recipe calls for green, but I got red), some olive oil, 1/3 a cup of kalamata olives, capers, a big can of plum tomatoes (I got whole, but you might as well get crushed because you wind up crushing them anyway) and pasta! The peppers and garlic go into the pot first and cook for a few minutes. While that went down, I pitted the olives. I have an olive pitter, but decided to just use my hands because it was faster. Those went into the pot along with the capers followed by the tomatoes which I drained in a small colander and squeezed by hand.
All that simmered for 15 minutes and then was good to go. I started the water for pasta first, as I always do, so when they were both done, I mixed the pasta in and cooked them through for a bit as I’ve heard is the best way to go. Since I used such big round pasta, the sauce — which is a lot more chunky and less fluid than a traditional one — actually got in there and made for some tasty surprises. What I love most about puttanesca — aside from how easy it is to make apparently — is that salty bite the capers and olives give. It’s a little sweet from the tomatoes, a bit bitter and of course salty, so it had fun with your tastebuds. After a week or two I think I’ll check out my copy of Northern Italian Cooking to see if there’s a recipe in there that sounds like it would be tasty.