Monday, 22 August 2011

Quick and easy Puttanesca Sauce that delivers big flavours

I call this pasta sauce the “Thai food of the Italians”. This is because it hits all the tastebuds like a steam train - salty, sweet, sour and hot. Even if you don’t like anchovies, I beg you to leave them in this sauce. If you use a moderate amount, like my 5 in the recipe below, you won’t actually taste much fishiness, however, the saltiness and meatiness just adds an extra dimension to the sauce. Using fresh herbs in the recipe scales new heights of savouriness.

If you can’t get your hands on passata or cherry tomatoes don’t worry you could just use two tins of diced/chopped tomatoes. The end result won’t be much different. I like to use cherry tomatoes because I find their round plumpness is pleasing to the eye and when you bite into them you get some extra sweetness.

This “saucy” sauce has a few legends surrounding it and there are a gazillion recipes out there using massively differing amounts of the standard ingredients – this is my version that I’ve tinkered together and perfected over time.  Give this forgiving sauce a bash and you'll wonder how you lived without it.

• 6 medium or 4 large fresh sages leaves finely chopped

• Stalk of fresh rosemary taken off stem and finely chopped

• 3 large cloves of garlic finely minced

• 1 tsp of dried oregano

• Good size pinch of chilli flakes or a medium red chilli finely dices including seeds

• 4 tablespoons of olive oil

• 5 anchovy fillets finely chopped [or more to taste]

• 1 cup of passata [sieved tomatoes]

• 1 400g tin of cherry tomatoes in tomato sauce [the best you can find]

• 1 tbsp of sugar

• Pepper to taste

• 1 heaped cup of black olives, cut in half

• ¾ cup of capers, salted best but in brine will also do

• Fresh parsley finely chopped for sprinkling on to serve


Heat the olive oil over a low heat

Add the sage, rosemary and garlic and cook very gently for 5 minutes [the garlic mustn’t get any colour at all but should cook enough, so it doesn’t taste rawAdd the chilli flakes and oregano and cook for a minute

Add the anchovies and cook for a minute

Add the passata, olives, capers and stir together

Add the sugar

Add the tin of cherry tomatoes

Season with pepper [I don’t use salt, as the ingredients are salty enough]

Simmer  over a very low heat for 5 minutes [don't make the mistake of letting this sauce simmer for too long, it's not meant to cook for ages because the idea behind this sauce is for it to have a fresh and not stewed taste]

Tip - I find that tomato based sauces which arent' cooked for  long enough to reduce will often  have watery tomato juice separating underneath the pasta.  To avoid this dissolve one heaped teaspoon of cornflour powder in a little water and stir into the sauce a minute before serving.  The result is a slightly thicker sauce that doesn't separate whatsoever and it doesn't affect the taste of the sauce at all.

Sprinkle on fresh parsley to serve

Serve on pasta of your choice. Most popular seems to be spaghetti or penne.
Serves: 2 large portions, or 4 as a starter

Photo courtesy of Flickr - dboy CCL

1 comment:

girls who like to gorge said...

Perfect sounding pasta sauce - and yes, the few legends around it.. 'working girls pasta...' ! xxx