Pasta alla Puttanesca – Pasta a la Whore??
Hi everybody, FB Hubby back with another $15 dinner challenge. This week, Shannon has been talking about fears when it comes to investing and how to overcome these. So she asked me, as the main cook in the house, is there anything I am afraid to cook with. Aside from liver (the thought of it brings back horrible memories from my childhood) I have always been afraid to do anything with anchovies. From the texture to the mere appearance, these little guys give me the creeps. If I see them on a pizza at a pizza place it makes me want to leave. When I worked in a restaurant and someone ordered a Caesar Salad, we had to top it with two anchovies. I hated when people ordered Caesar Salad. Even the dressing freaked me out because I knew it was chock full of these tiny fish. (Sorry to spoil that for anyone, but a true Caesar dressing has pureed anchovies.) So in honor of Shannon’s week on fears of investing and overcoming those fears, I have decided to overcome my fears of anchovies and make Pasta alla Puttanesca.
A little history
Since this was going to be a new venture, I looked up some recipes. Along the way, I found out something interesting about the name, that I always wondered about. Having grown up around my Italian grandfather (Pap Pap), the word “puttana” would occasionally come from his mouth, particularly while yelling at someone driving. One day I looked it up and found out he was calling these people a “whore,” which was also funny as he said to every perceived bad driver, male or female. So that meant that Pasta alla Puttanesca would translate into Pasta a la Whore. Indeed, there were several places I looked that said that this dish was somehow related to either being popular among the Italian ladies of the night, or was a sort of aphrodisiac. However, I found an article written by Jeremy Parzen called The Origin of Sugo alla Puttanesca that went through the various stories of the origin of this sauce, and what seemed to be most plausible. In this, the most likely source is a guy named Sandro Petti who, due to only having some tomatoes, olives, garlic, and anchovies, came up with this sauce to feed a group of hungry friends.
So I looked up a few recipes and settled on on by Rachel Ray. She actually had two, but one had you roasting tomatoes and garlic for an hour before and the other was a more simple looking one. As this was my first time with this dish, I did not want to freelance too much. The ingredients were pretty simple, though I cut back on the amount of tomatoes, as it seems like a lot. I also used black olives as the other kind was too expensive and cooked it longer to let the flavors blend more. The total cost, including the box of pasta, capers, olives, tomatoes, anchovies, tomato paste (something I am not usually prone to using), garlic, and parsley, $13.60.
The verdict, it was AWESOME!! The combination of the garlic, tomatoes, and capers alone would be enough, but the salty taste of the anchovies really kicked it up a notch. I certainly learned that what Shannon said for investing, should also be applied to cooking. Or as Chef Gusteau said in the movie Ratatouille, “What I say to you is true, anyone can cook, but only the fearless can be great!” Enjoy!!