This Tagliatelle Puttanesca is really one of my favourite things to cook. I love that it is made from a load of store cupboard ingredients so as long as you have room for a few tins and jars in your kitchen, you’re never more than a few minutes away from a satisfying dinner. What’s there not to like? Granted, the answer to that question for a lot of people is the olives, capers and anchovies but as long as you’re okay with those ingredients, this dish is for you. Even if you are not okay with the anchovies, they do what they do best which is dissolve in the oil and permeate the sauce with a lovely savouriness that is not at all fishy. If you really cannot abide the thought of the anchovies you can just leave them out and now you have yourself a vegetarian dinner for when your veggie friends visit!
As free as you are to leave things out, you are just as free to add things in. I’ve added pancetta in the past, some sliced chorizo and about every dried herb I have in the pantry and it never fails. I haven’t tried it but as I look at the picture above I think that prawns and a squeeze of lemon would be pretty epic!
As much as I love the versatility, simplicity and accessibility of this dish, I think my favourite thing about it, besides the taste, is its name. Puttanesca in Italian means prostitute! This “prostitute’s tagliatelle” is thought to have gotten its name for being a favourite in brothels where this speedy, hearty meal could be rustled up without daily, wholesome trips to the market like respectable women make. I always think of that when I make it and it is a perfect example of how food and culture can often be one and the same and how a plate can be like a snapshot of another place and time.
- 250 g dried tagliatelle
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 5 anchovy fillets
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 1 tbsp capers
- 1 generous handful of pitted black olives
- 1 tin of tomatoes, preferably cherry tomatoes
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 30 g fresh chopped basil
- 25 g finely grated parmesan, plus more for garnish
- Boil the pasta according to the instructions on the back of the packet and add the salt to the water.
- Add the oil to a pan over a medium heat and add the chopped anchovy fillets.
- Add the sciled garlic, followed by the chilli flakes then the capers and olives and allow to cook for a few minutes.
- Add the tinned tomatoes and the vinegar.
- Add the now cooked pasta and mix so that each strand of tagliatelle is coated in the sauce.
- Add the basil and parmesan and mix to combine.
- Plate up and dust with a little extra parmesan.