Sunday, February 6, 2011

Fast and Easy Pasta Puttanesca, If You Know What I Mean

Elaine and Axel F came over last Saturday for dinner and a viewing of Inception, so I'm not even sure if we really ate this meal or if it was all in someone's mind. I made pasta with a tuna puttanesca sauce which really was the stuff of dreams (lamest joke ever? possibly). I've seen several people do this and I think its just delicious - the tuna makes it a heartier dish and puttanesca is one of my favorites with all the brininess of the olives and capers which just seem to go so well with a seafood component.

1 lb pasta (I used spaghetti, you can use whatever you want)
olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cans good tuna (really, do yourself a favor, at least for this dish and get some good tuna packed in oil)
1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives (I don't have to tell you to take the pits out, right?)
3 tbs capers
1/2 cup white wine (I used a delicious South African Sauvignon Blanc, which was perfect for drinking with dinner as well - wish I remembered the name of it, sorry!)
1 can tomatoes (mine were whole plum, but you could certainly used diced as well; but again, get the good stuff)
flat leaf parsley
zest of one lemon
reserved pasta water

Put a pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Season generously with salt, bring back to the boil and add pasta. Cook until al dente. Reserve about a cup of pasta water before you chuck it all down the drain! But, remember that you want to take this water out of the pot near the end of the cooking time so that its nice and starchy.

While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add minced garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for a couple of minutes just until you can smell the garlic and then add the tuna, breaking it down with your spoon. Add the olives and capers, cook for a few minutes and then add white wine. (You may want to turn the heat up a little before you add the wine, so you don't lose too much heat off the pan.) Let reduce slightly, about a minute and then add your tomatoes and their juice. If you've opted for whole ones, you will need to break them up with your cooking utensil. Add the chopped parsley, lemon zest and pepper to taste. Depending on the consistency of your sauce at this point, this is where you want to add the pasta water - you want it saucy with enough liquid to coat all your pasta, but not soupy. Best way to do it is to add your pasta to the sauce, stir to coat and then judge if you want to put the pasta water in. I like to undercook my pasta just the tiniest bit, add it to the sauce with some pasta water and let it finish cooking in the sauce, so that some of the deliciousness cooks into the pasta. If you've added too much liquid, this method will allow the pasta to soak some of that up as it finishes cooking. You shouldn't need to add salt because of the olives, capers and salty pasta water, but taste your sauce at this point to make sure.

I served this dish with slices of crusty bread, slathered in garlic oil, topped with asiago and toasted in the oven for a few minutes.

Elaine made a surprising, refreshing and absolutely delicious dessert that I hope she'll tell you all about really soon.


  1. You can't go wrong with hooker sauce. It's one of my faves as well. The addition of tuna is intriguing. You are killing me with the bread. I want to lick the computer screen.

  2. I have to try this dish! I got hungry JUST READING about it! xoxox