Friday, December 31, 2010

The land of plenty...and Michael's puttanesca

The first thing any foreigner notices upon landing here in the USA is how big everything is, how much of everything there is. Cars are big, roads are wide, supermarkets are huge. Portions are enormous, when you order a sandwich you get a choice of five different kinds of bread and six different kinds of cheese and if you are looking for a box of cereal or a can of Coke make sure you know what you want before venturing down the endless supermarket aisle. I know this and come prepared but trust me when I say I still found the choice of hummus at our local store mindboggling, with edamame hummus the most boring choice on offer!

So when they predicted a strong snow storm last week we knew to expect a big one. Things here are however always a touch 'more' and we awoke to a city blanketed in white. The streets were empty except for very few taxis, people walking in between them to avoid the impossible sidewalks.

But now let's get serious and talk puttanesca, a dish made in the past in Southern Italy by whores (thus the name) for their clients. A very simple, poor dish full of flavor and heat to satisfy the most manly of appetites. So why, you must be wondering, am I giving you the recipe for this dish when I am so far from its country of origin, the place where I live.

Well, my father was back in good spirits last night and decided to treat us to his favorite meal. He is known to many for his spaghetti alla puttanesca and I have helped  make it more times than I can remember for small and large gatherings. People have tasted it from near and far and when he throws a dinner party they know what they will be eating (and preparing - it has become a sort of tradition to get anyone polite enough to arrive on time, unlike my dad, to help peel, chop and pit). An old friend of his, a well known home economist and businesswoman we won't name, loves it and asked to use it in one of her cookbooks many years ago, but it was inevitably changed to please more delicate palates.

My father makes pretty much the same amount for four or twenty four, but I will give you approximate amount per can of pelati and you can multiply from there.

This is a puttanesca on steroids compared to its Italian cousin, just like everything else in this country. So don't say I didn't warn you and remember, don't make this for your vampire friends. I would avoid a first date too, but I think my father wined and dined many a woman with this who am I say?

Happy New Year to all of you out there, wherever you are in the world...although come to think of it,  it is already 2011 for many of you!

1 head of garlic, peeled
3 or 4 shallots, quartered
1/2 jar of green pepper corns (in brine)
1 jar of capers in brine
1 jar of anchovies
mixed black olives
1 large can of tomatoes (pelati) or very ripe tomatoes when in season
olive oil
spaghetti (my dad usually uses capellini, but as an honorary Italian I just can't do it myself, sorry)

Put plenty of olive oil in a large sauce pan and add in the anchovies, letting them break up in the oil and then add the garlic and shallots, letting them soften. Add in the pepper corns, the capers and the olives. Add in the tomatoes/pelati and let simmer for a while (the longer the better) and then the olives and the oregano. Bring a pot of hot, salted water to a boil and cook the pasta. When al dente drain and mix with the sauce.  


  1. That is an INSANE amount of garlic! Happy New Year!

  2. I can't imagine using that much garlic, but there's something about this recipe that makes me want, want, want to try it. Sounds awesome.
    Have a wonderful 2011... Happy New Year :)

  3. Needless to say, I discard the garlic, unlike my dear father! But it gives the sauce just the right flavor.

  4. First off I love your picts on NYC - beautiful! Funny about how everything here in the states is big - including the snow! LOL!

    I laughed at all the garlic but I am ALL for big FLAVOR and this looks to certainly have it! YUM!!!! I would have love to have been there to try this dish!

  5. Wow to the garlic AND all that snow!

    Happy new year to you :) Hope 2011 is full of love, happiness and good food along the way

  6. i will definately try this recipe..even with the crazy amount of garlic! all in the name of puttanesca sauce..yum!

  7. DD&W - When you are in the States for a while you sort of loose the perception of how big everything is. There is a lot of flavor, and believe it or not, because the garlic is in whole cloves, it is not that strong if you don't eat it. Happy 2011!
    Ladybird - Happy New Year to you too and thank you for all your wishes.
    BBKD - Let me know what you think... :o)


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