23rd May 2001
I came across spaghetti putanesca for the first time when
some friends cooked it one evening. This recipe is my attempt to
recreate that uniquely powerful flavour of that meal with a minimum of
effort. Consequently, I'm using tinned tomatoes instead of fresh
ones: I don't believe this makes the slightest difference, since the
much more powerful garlic, chili, caper, olive and anchovy flavours
overwhelm the tomato anyway.
See my chicken dhansak recipe for my
thoughts on accuracy of quantities.
This recipe serves two people as specified here, but since the sauce
is so pungently flavoured, you can easily stretch it to four people by
cooking double the quantity of spaghetti and giving each person a
half-portion of sauce. Or you can just double the quantities.
This is a wonderful recipe. Trust me.
It should take about fifteen to twenty minutes.
- A tablespoon of olive oil
- A knob of butter
- Three cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- Four fresh or pickled chilis, finely chopped
- Half an onion, finely chopped
- A 16oz tin of tomatoes, chopped
- Optional: a blob of sun-dried tomato paste or tomato puree
- Optional: half a glass of red wine
- Twenty to thirty capers
- Fifteen to twenty olives
- Four anchovies, coarsely chopped
- Any herbs you happen to have to hand, fresh or dried
- Warm the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and melt the butter
- Lightly fry the garlic for a minute or so.
- Add the chilis and fry for another minute.
- Add the onion and fry for five minutes, until it has become
fairly soft. If you need to add more oil to prevent sticking,
- Add the chopped tomatoes, holding back any excess liquid for
now. If you're using the sun-dried tomato paste or tomato
puree, add it now.
- Mix well and let it all simmer for five minutes, reducing a
little. If the mixture gets too dry, you can add either some
red wine or the juice from the tin of tomatoes.
- Add the capers, olives, anchovies and herbs. Simmer for a few
- Serve over spaghetti.
Go on, eat it, it's good. Quickly, before it gets cold!