Despite the more colourful inferences that pasta alla puttanesca was born of Italian houses of ill repute, made by prostitutes to lure customers in from the streets, the dish in truth, has far more simple beginnings.
Yes, it’s true that “alla puttanesca” can translate to “style of the whores” but the very similar word “puttanata” means rubbish, or crap, and its in this translation where we find a more probable history.
In the 1950’s, on the island of Ischia, a man by the name of Sandro Petti was asked late one night by some patrons in his restaurant to make them some food. Nearing closing, he didn’t have many ingredients left so told them there wasn’t enough to make a meal. “Facci una puttanata qualsiasi,” they said or “Make any kind of garbage”. Only having a few olives, tomatoes and capers, he used these to make a sauce and mixed it with spaghetti. Petti later placed it on his menu, but changed “puttanata” to “puttanesca” apparently because the former didn’t sound quite right.
Pasta Alla Puttanesca
- 400g fresh pasta
- 4 garlic cloves
- 4 anchovy fillets
- 2 red chilies, sliced
- 80 g black olives, pitted
- ½ punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ bunch fresh basil, picked and washed
- parmesan, to serve
- Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta for about 4 minutes or until al dente.
- Meanwhile place a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, then add the garlic, anchovy and chili. Add the pitted olive and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the garlic starts to slightly caramelize and the anchovies start to blend into the sauce.
- Add the cherry tomatoes and a little bit of the cooking water, cover with the lid and cook for 2 minutes or until the tomatoes start to cook.
- Add the basil to the sauce along with the fresh pasta and some of the cooking water, just enough to loosen and make delicious and saucy!
- Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed, transfer the pasta in a big serving bowl, top with shaved parmesan, basil and anchovy fillets.
A glass of EVOI Sauvignon Blanc Semillon From www.airoldifinewines.com.au would be a perfect match with this delicious pasta dish.
Watch the how to video below or visit my YouTube channel here for more.