Sunday, May 13, 2007

Pasta Puttanesca

There aren’t many foods that I dislike but I recently discovered one: capers. The little buds are painstakingly harvested by hand so they seemed like something really special and delicious. I made some spaghetti puttanesca as my first caper dish and surprisingly, I couldn’t stand the taste of them. I can’t explain why I don’t like them, they just taste very alien to me. So if you’re like me and don’t like capers (but I may be alone in this), you can easily omit them from the recipe. But don't let me put you off capers, since many if not most people love them. One day I will give capers another chance, perhaps it's an acquired taste.

Puttanesca is a simple and very flavorful dish with plenty of healthy ingredients so it’s perfect for this month’s "Heart of the Matter" theme, pasta. Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, and other compounds that help prevent cancer and heart disease. Studies have shown that the volatile oils in parsley inhibit tumor growth in animals and also neutralize harmful carcinogens. Olives are also a good source of monosaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins A, C, and E. There is no meat, cream, butter, or cheese in this dish. Another way to make pasta even healthier is to sneak in some whole wheat pasta (Ronzoni is the best brand). I can get away with about 1 part whole wheat to 3 parts regular pasta before Steven notices a difference but I'm slowly trying to add more and more.

Spaghetti Puttanesca
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes or substitute cayenne but use less (1/8 to 1/4 tsp)
2 tsp minced anchovies, about 4 – 5 fillets (or you can press the fillets through a garlic press)
1 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes, drained and reserve 1/4 C of the juice
1 Tbsp capers or more to taste, rinsed
1/4 C Kalamata olives, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp minced parsley
8 oz. pasta of your choice

Start by boiling water for the pasta. Start cooking the sauce when you add the pasta and salt to the boiling water.

Mix the minced garlic with a scant tablespoon of water. Add the garlic, anchovies, red pepper flakes to olive oil in a skillet and heat the mixture over medium heat. Cook until the garlic is fragrant and slightly blond but not brown, about 2 minutes. Add the drained tomatoes and simmer until it slightly thickens, about 8 minutes.

Drain the pasta when cooked.

Stir the olives, capers, and parsley into the sauce and toss with the pasta. If the mixture looks too dry, add in some of the reserved tomato juice. This dish is already salty enough from the olives and anchovies. Parmesan is not used to garnish this pasta.

Serves 2

Be sure to check the round up later this month at Ilva’s blog Lucullian Delights for more heart healthy pasta dishes.
Previous Heart of the Matter rounds for other great recipes.


Ilva said...

Thanks for your entry, nothing beats a good pasta alla puttanesca like yours! And thanks for the health info, that's so useful!

Unknown said...

More like one part in five. :(

Wandering Chopsticks said...

I've been meaning to make this for a while but other foods keep cropping up. But hey, we're thinking alike. :P

I love capers though and add quite a bit to mine. Maybe you can start it off with using some in insalata caprese? I use minced capers in my version. And green olives too. But then, I like sour things. And I omitted the anchovies. I love using lots of anchovies in my Caesar salad dressing, but when I tried it in this dish, it just overpowered everything else.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Amy, I love capers but I totally understand you, sweetie. :)

This pasta dish looks so delicious! All the ingredients are great.

Amy said...

Thank you! HotM is a great event, it motivates me to make healthy dishes.

Nah, you just don't notice. ;)

I'll try mincing capers next time. I didn't really like biting into them, it sorta overwhelmed me.

Thanks! :) Hehe capers are maybe the only thing I don't like but I will try them again.

Anonymous said...

I've never tried capers. What does it taste like...hmmmm....*scratchin' my head*

SteamyKitchen said...

I love capers! But I also love eating the entire 10" pickles from the deli.

Freya said...

Puttanesca is an awesome dish but with the anchovies and capers are not to everyones taste. Persevere though, they might grow on you!

Amy said...

Hmm... the taste is kinda hard to describe but it's sharp, pungent, salty, and sour?

I loooove pickles though. Hehe go figure. :p

Freya and Paul,
I agree, I won't give up on capers just yet. It took me a few times to like sashimi and now it's one of my favorite foods. Who knows, maybe capers will turn out like that. :D

Susan from Food Blogga said...

I'll eat capers but only in moderation. Their briny flavor can overwhelm some dishes. It's still a great recipe though!

Amy said...

I agree, their flavor can be a bit overwhelming.

Hannah said...

I've made this from a different recipe before. The capers can be a bit over-powering, especially for younger kids, so I rinsed them and sliced them finely.

Mr. & Mrs. Green said...

i think that it is the texture of the capers that i don't like...


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