Stories about the origins of the original abound: “puttana” is Italian for prostitute, so the sauce overflows with etymological inspiration.
It’s also full of the robust flavors of anchovies, capers and olives.
Puttanesque Sauce eschews the anchovies, reduces the amount of olives and makes up for them with some chopped marinated artichoke hearts.
The sauce is simple and rich and for me evokes memories of improptu meals with friends from a basement market where I worked after university. From one of those periods in a life when there are paths that need to be taken, but for a brief and lovely time you are able to put off choosing one.
This works well with spirally type noodles for catching the bits. Or try it with gnocchi or tortellini.
A simple salad on the side, with maybe a slice or two of good bread, and you’re done.
(If you can’t find capers where you shop, or if they are too expensive, don’t worry – the dish will still taste great without them.)
- 2 tablespoons / 30 ml olive oil
- 4-5 cloves garlic, sliced
- ¼ - ½ teaspoon / 1.25 - 2.5 ml chili flakes
- 1 tablespoon / 15 ml capers, rinsed and finely chopped (see note)
- 1 can (28 oz / 796 ml) diced tomatoes
- ½ cup / 125 ml roughly chopped Kalamata olives (about 12 olives)
- ½ cup / 125 ml roughly chopped marinated artichoke hearts
- 1 teaspoon / 5 ml dried basil
- 1 teaspoon / 5 ml dried oregano
- Fresh ground pepper to taste
- Place olive oil in a small bowl and stir in sliced garlic and chili flakes. Let the mixture sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Place a pan over medium heat and add the garlic mixture. Heat until the garlic is soft but not browned. Reduce the heat if the garlic starts to brown.
- Add capers, tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts, basil, oregano and pepper.
- Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Serve over pasta.
If you cannot find them or they are too expensive where you live, this dish will taste fine without them, so don't worry.