07 August 2011

spaghetti alla puttanesca

When in Rome on holiday, we found an incredible little restaurant that was so great that we ate there three nights. Though the restaurant is very small, l'Archetto has over 100 spaghetti selections on their menu. I should know -- I stole a copy of the menu and now proudly have it as a souvenir and recipe guide.

"Spaghetti alla puttanesca" translates in Italian as "whore's style spaghetti." With a name like that, it has to be good, right?

Some say that it was a sauce created by a restaurant owner who had many guests come to his restaurant to eat late one night as he was about to close. He didn't have enough of any one ingredient to make a meal for them all so he took everything out of his kitchen and put it together to make this sauce. Normally his recipes were exact and strictly followed; in this case though, he "whored" his profession to make some last minute sales to the hungry guests.

Others believe that the sauce originated among those in trade, so to speak. The puttanas invented this quick and easy pasta sauce to make in between customers.

Still others contend that the sauce originated as the "decent" women threw their leftovers from balconies as the puttanas walked the streets below them.

1/4 cup olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, sliced
3 tsp arrabbiata seasoning
15 pitted kalamata olives, quartered (Napa Valley Bistro brand)
2 tsp peperoncino
5 tsp capers
1 80 gram jar of anchovies
5 campari tomatoes, quartered or cut in sixths
2-3 tsp lemon juice
8 oz spaghetti
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
Grated pecorino romano or parmesan cheese

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté very low until fragrant.

Add olives, capers, arrabbiata seasoning, and pereoncino. Simmer sauce over medium-low heat. Add anchovies and lemon juice. Add tomatoes and turn off heat.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain pasta; return to same pot. Add sauce and parsley. Toss over low heat until sauce coats pasta, about 3 minutes. Serve with cheese.