Spaghetti puttanesca

spaghettip3It’s finally time the time we’ve been waiting for all year: Farmer’s market tomato season. This week, I diligently went to the farmer’s market in front of my office, as I do every week, to check out the inventory. Today was the day. They had everything. Yellow squash, zucchini, peaches, peppers, cantaloupes and the prized tomatoes. I purchased four tomatoes, my hopes high with anticipation to see and eat the perfect, beautiful deep red fruit.

I went home, thinking only about tomato slices lightly sprinkled with salt, and sliced a tomato. After the first slice, my hopes and expectations came crashing down. The tomato was not the apex of summer but only slightly juicy and with whitish green spots throughout. I’m eating my farmer’s market tomatoes, but they’re not all I’d hoped for. I’ll try a different stand next week.

In the meantime, without my perfect tomatoes to satisfy my hunger, I had to actually cook something.


This dish is completely composed of pantry items. It even contains capers, which I happen to have in my refrigerator in case I impulse buy salmon (and make decide to make these). Literally, though, none of the ingredients are perishable, and it’s likely you already have most of them. I’d even go so far as to keep these ingredients on hand for a quick dinner. I was originally a bit hesitant to try spaghetti puttanesca (I’m not a huge fan of olives, and I don’t even know what I think about anchovies), but I’m glad I braved it. I didn’t really have anything to lose, and the result turned out well. It’s a reliable “I have no idea what to eat tonight” dinner.



Spaghetti puttanesca
from Everyday Food: Fresh Flavor Fast
makes 4 very large servings, 6 moderate/smaller ones

Note: I ate some of this immediately after preparing it and wasn’t impressed. I ran an errand for about an hour, and when I came back I ate a bit more. The spaghetti puttanesca exponentially improves at room temperature and from an hour or so or rest, letting the flavors come together. In my opinion, it’s best to serve this at room temperature.

If you like spicier food, use ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes.

1 pound spaghetti
olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
6 anchovy filets, rinsed
1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes in juice, preferably San Marzano
2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
½ cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

1. Cook pasta in salted water in a 4 quart pot. Once al dente, drain and add back to pot.

2. Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat two good glugs of oil over medium heat. Add garlic, red pepper and anchovy filets, breaking apart anchovies with the back of a wooden spoon. You want them to basically become a paste that disperses throughout the sauce. Cook until fragrant, about one minute.

3. Add tomatoes and juice to the skillet, being sure to crush them with your fingers, breaking each tomato apart prior to adding it to the pan. Add capers and olives, and bring sauce to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 10 minutes.

4. Add sauce to drained pasta (in the pot) and toss. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Let rest about an hour prior to serving.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *