Friday, April 29, 2011

Spaghetti Puttanesca

I have been watching Jamie Oliver's show, "Oliver Twist" lately, and last night on my way home from the gym I was inspired to try one of his simple pasta dishes.  I love to cook, and the flavors that he uses just seem so perfect.  I had to give his quick spaghetti puttanesca a try:

Ingredients (slightly modified to my taste):
  • 1 pound (455 grams) dried spaghetti, the best you can get
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (I used three)
  • 1 handful capers, drained
  • 2 handfuls big black olives, pitted
  • 12 anchovy fillets
  • Crushed red pepper flake, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cans of whole tomatoes
  • 2 good handfuls of fresh basil
  • Freshly ground black pepper

(These are the instructions that I have written for the sake of clarity.)  To start let the garlic brown just a tad in some extra virgin olive oil, but be careful, if you let garlic burn it turns horribly bitter.  Drain your olives, capers, and anchovies-then toss them in the pan.  Next comes the oregano, chilies, and pepper.  Let that cook on medium heat for just a few minutes, and then add both cans of tomatoes, give it a stir, and let it simmer on low-medium heat for about ten minutes.  You shouldn't need to add salt, the ingredients used in the dish are salty enough.  The anchovies are beautiful, they melt in the pan and create a beautiful sticky feel to all of the ingredients.  Mmmmmm!

To cook the spaghetti, make sure you have a big pot, and add a healthy pinch or two of salt to the water.  Let your pasta cook until it is "al dente," which means "to the teeth" (roughly).  Pasta cooks after you pull it off the heat, and if your spaghetti still has a little bite to it when you test it, it will be perfect on the plate.  Make sure you don't rinse your pasta, and leave just a bit of water in the pot.  Drizzle some good extra virgin olive oil in the spaghetti (not the stuff you cook with), and add the two handfuls of basil (give it a tear before you add it).   Toss the spaghetti and the sauce, then serve.

This dish took about fifteen minutes, and it was a huge hit in our house.  My only complaint was that it didn't have any meat in it!  I'm thinking of cooking up some Italian sausage on the side next time, I'll have to let you know how that goes!

According to Jamie Oliver, don't use parmesan, but the contributors to "Olive Juice" did.

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