Several hours of journeying later, I'm back from Croatia. Travelling exhausts me, and the food solution is to either eat a rich and comforting meal to lull you into a stupor, or go the other way and have something fiery to jolt you back to normality. Having had a week of food without masses of flavour, I opted for the latter. I hovered around making a curry, but settled on pasta puttanesca as it required a little less thinking and a shorter shopping list.
There are probably endless variations to making this sauce, and I'll throw in my own. Onions aren't often included, I like them, but by all means leave them out. By the same token, I'll sometimes add fennel seeds. I think they work well, but they aren't authentic. Spaghetti is the usual pasta shape for the sauce, I just happened to have linguine to hand.
As with other garlicky pasta sauces, Parmesan wouldn't be served alongside puttanesca in Italy. I do prefer it cheeseless- something I rarely say- but you already have the saltiness from the olives and the anchovies so to add parmesan can be overkill. Bear this in mind when seasoning at the end, you may not want to add salt at all. Adding parmesan also tones down the punchiness of the dish, which I feel somewhat defeats the point of puttanesca, The Whore's Sauce.
½ onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 anchovy fillets
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 tsp dried oregano
1-2 tsp chilli flakes
fennel seeds (optional)
palmful capers, chopped
palmful black olives, stoned and chopped
Put a large pan of water on to boil for the pasta, when it reaches boiling point, add salt and the pasta, cook until al dente. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a saucepan or deep frying pan, then add the onion. Cook over a medium heat until softened. Add the garlic, cook for about 1 minute, then add the anchovies. Cook for another minute, then add the tomatoes, oregano, chilli flakes, and the fennel seeds if using. Grind in some pepper too. Turn up the heat slightly and simmer for about 5 minutes. Introduce the olives and capers to the sauce, and cook for a couple more minutes. Taste, add salt and pepper if it needs it. Add the (now drained) pasta to the pan of sauce, toss until thoroughly and evenly coated. Divide between plates and serve.
Serves 3 for a main, 4 for a starter