Wednesday, November 28, 2012

30 Min Recipe: Pasta Puttanesca with Sausage

Pasta doesn't make you fat. How much pasta you eat makes you fat. – Giada De Laurentiis 

There are as many recipes for puttanesca sauce as there are Italian “nonnas.” But the basics are the same. In a nut shell, puttanesca is a tomato sauce with capers, kalamata olives, red pepper flakes, tomato sauce and sometimes anchovies. 

It’s one of those recipes based on what’s handy in your pantry. That makes it hearty, flavourful, homey – and quick.

Pickled capers. Photo: kevandy, Flickr ccl
I said “what’s in your pantry”... Most of us we would have one or two of the ingredients. Of course, Italian pantries are a bit different than most North American ones. I had three of the four, so that’s what went in. (I was fresh out of anchovies...)

A god puttanesca is salty, spicy and sweet. Salt from the capers and olives, spicy from the chili flakes, and sweet from the basil and tomatoes.

(Side note: the best place to get capers is the Dollarstore – $1.25 to $1.50, as opposed to $2.50+ at a grocery.)

This sauce goes together very quickly, which in turn is partly accountable for where it got its name.

Not a very flattering name...
The direct translation of puttanesca, from Italian to English, is “whoreish, not chaste”. The story goes that this dish was one that ladies of the evening made between conducting their business. Only a little time, so a fast recipe – and one where the ingredients were already on hand.

Photo: satakieli, Flickr ccl
I have also read that the wonderful smell of the sauce would entice would-be customers to their homes. I kind of doubt that last bit. They would have other things than a hearty meal on their minds, one would assume.

Regardless, that’s where the name comes from. But it doesn’t matter. Whatever this is called it is delicious.

This is one of my two favourite pasta sauces. The other is Arrabbiata, a spicy concoction that has lots of garlic and chilli. I usually put lobster in that one...

What you put in the sauces (above and beyond the “requirements”) is up to you, if you put anything at all. Puttanesca is just as delicious tossed and served “as is.”

But this night I was making a main course, so I added some sausage, green pepper and portobello mushrooms.

It all turned out rather well and only two pots dirty. This is another one to put in your winter weather arsenal. You’ll be glad you did.

Pasta Puttanesca with Sausage
Prep: 10 min  |  Cook: 15 min  | Serves 4
1 lb Italian sausage
2 tbsp olive oil
200 g portobello mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium green pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped
2 tbsp capers, whole
1 tsp dried basil, or 1 tbsp fresh
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
3-4 cups tomato sauce, plain
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
2-1/2 cups penne

Boil the sausage in a little water in a large sauté pan. Let the water evaporate, turning the sausage to cook through. Remove and let cool. Then slice into serving size pieces.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in the same pan. Add  the chopped mushrooms and sauté for about 2 minutes, until they begin to darken. 

Then add the second tablespoon of oil and the onion, garlic and green pepper. Let cook for about 4-5 minutes.

Once the onions and pepper has softened slightly add the kalamata, capers, basil and chilli flakes. Stir well and then add in the tomato sauce. Add the sliced sausage, pepper and salt.

Let simmer on low while you cook the penne.

Once the penne have cooked, drain and add to the sauce. Toss well and serve.


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