Puttanesca definition: ”Whore’s style spaghetti” in Italian. Got to make this stuff just to say you’re making “Street walker spaghetti”. The story goes that this is the pasta the “ladies of the night” made in Italy to keep them going all night long. It is quick and easy…ahem. Delicious too, spicy, a beautiful, simple sauce.
Caponata: A Sicilian cooked eggplant salad or sometimes a stew, that is often served as an appetizer to dip crostini in, over chicken and many other ways. I like to chop it fine in the food processor and serve the cooked mixture with crusty bread, brown rice crackers or vegetables for a delicious appetizer. Sort of a sweet/sour Italian version of Ratatouille.
Why did I combine the two? It just sounded good! I created it when I was designing a vegetarian menu to make for a retreat I cater for every few weeks. I wanted something hearty and FULL of vegetables to serve with quinoa pasta (gluten free needs for the group). This is a bold, flavorful sauce. My version is easy and uses ingredients readily available. If you have fresh tomatoes during the summer by all means, please make this using fresh tomatoes…Oh. My. Goodness…it would be so fabulous. Otherwise good quality organic canned tomatoes work great. There are such great salty elements to this dish…Kalamata olives, capers, anchovy paste – along with the fresh vegetables (eggplant, onion, red bell pepper, zucchini, tomatoes) it is a beautiful, complex, yet easy sauce.
Don’t just use it for pasta – I had mine last night over a big bed of roasted asparagus. You can also sear up some chicken (thighs or breasts) or white fish of your choice (I’m thinking halibut or cod would be SO good prepared this way), remove them and make this sauce then finish the meat by braising it in this amazing stew-like sauce. This would make a fabulous, easy weeknight meal but also special enough to serve to guests. You can also use it as a sauce for lasagna – layer with cheese and whole grain noodles – amazing.
Don’t skip the anchovy paste – this stuff is cheap, a tube will last you a LONG time and adds such depth of flavor that you cannot create without it. Your kitchen will smell a little funky for just a few seconds as this cooks off…well worth it!
2 Tb healthy oil/fat of your choice (I use olive oil for this)
1 onion, chopped
1 eggplant (small), cut into 1″ cubes
1 zucchini, cut into 1″ cubes
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
2 big pinches Kosher/sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1-2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. When hot add oil, swirl to coat. Add the ingredients above, stir often, sauteeing about 5 minutes. When the vegetables are lightly golden brown and the onions start looking tender add:
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp anchovy paste
Cook about 2 more minutes for the garlic to get fragrant and the anchovy paste to cook. Add:
1/4 cup red wine
2 Tb fresh squeezed lemon juice
Let this cook up and bubble. When almost completely evaporated, about 2 minutes, add:
28 oz crushed tomatoes (fresh or canned)
1/4 cup capers
1/2 cup Kalamata olives (pitted and halved)
Bring to a simmer then lower the heat to med-low. Let the sauce simmer about 10-15 minutes.
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped or chiffonade
Parmesan cheese to taste.
Serve and enjoy! Serve on pasta (whole wheat or gluten free), over chicken or fish, as a filling for a lasagna, etc. etc.
Cheers, may your day be delicious!
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