Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

well-behaved women rarely make... pasta sauce?

Puttanesca is a dish with a history as colorful as a Tommie dePaola book. And that, perhaps, is why I like it so very much. I smile thinking of those Neapolitan ladies of leisure concocting this sauce to woo their men. I can imagine the draw - the scent of a simmered sauce "tarted up" with capers and olives wafting out over moon-lit cobbled streets; the way to the heart found through the stomach. It's as vivid in my imagination as it is in my bowl.
Certainly does warm things up a bit, doesn't it?

Spaghetti Puttanesca

2 Tb. olive oil
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. hot red pepper flakes (more or less, to suit your tastes)
1 - 28 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes in puree (or any whole, peeled tomatoes in puree)
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup canned artichoke hearts, drained and broken into large chunks
1/4 cup jarred roasted red bell pepper, chopped coarsely
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and broken
1/4 jarred capers, drained (rinsed if you desire)
a handful of torn fresh basil leaves

1 Lb. dried spaghetti

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.

While water is coming to boil, prepare the sauce. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the tomatoes in their puree, until broken, but not smooth. Set aside. In a medium pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and add the garlic and hot pepper flakes. Cook for 30 seconds or just until fragrant, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the processed tomatoes and their puree, the salt, and the pepper to the pot. Reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes, partially covered. Add the artichokes, roasted red pepper, olives, and capers, and continue to simmer for 10 more minutes, while the pasta cooks. Remove the sauce from heat and add the torn basil leaves. Drain the pasta, return it to the pot, and add the sauce, tossing to coat the pasta.
Serve with a bit of grated Parmesan and wink or two.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

seems just right

It's confusing here - near 50 degrees the other day, now hovering near the 20's; bright, sunny, and hinting of spring one moment, then gray, snowy, and definitely still winter the next. I don't know whether to forage for salad, or sink into a bowl of soup. So, I'm doing both...

Ina Garten's Italian Wedding Soup (from 'Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics')
A steamy bowl of homemade broth, simmering away with tiny pasta stars, little chicken meatballs, and just-wilted spinach - seems just right.
Of course, adding a nice green salad and a loaf of Ina's Garlic Ciabatta Bread is a good idea too.