So, I was going to talk about the health benefits of this flavourful Italian dish, BUT got sidetracked by some other interesting facts when I was doing recipe research …
DID YOU KNOW? Spaghetti alla puttanesca literally means prostitute’s spaghetti!
And that’s why we’re not talking about health today – and instead learning about how this dish got its name.
Some believe this was the easiest dish prostitutes could prepare between customers because the low cost, easily stored ingredients required little shopping or preparation.
Others believe it was was created by Sandro Petti, the co-owner of the restaurant Rangio Felon. The story goes that some customers arrived late to eat and because the restaurant had run out of many fresh ingredients, they asked Petti to prepare ‘una puttanata qualsiasi’, which literally translates as ‘a whore’s any’ but means any rubbish/ garbage. So Petti created a dish with what he had left in the kitchen. The resulting pasta dish was liked so much by the customers that Petti put it on the restaurant menu calling it ‘spaghetti all puttanesca’.
Moral of the story (whichever story you choose to believe): Spaghetti alla puttanesca is not only quick and easy to whip up, but it’s also a great go-to meal during the busy work week since most ingredients (like olives, capers, tomatoes and anchovies) can be easily stored in your kitchen.
Now check out my gluten free & paleo spin on a classic spaghetti alla puttanesca.
“Spaghetti” alla Puttanesca
INGREDIENTS: (serves 2)
1 large spaghetti squash
6 anchovy fillets, canned in olive oil
1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes , drained
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
2 tbsp. capers
3 garlic cloves, peeled & smashed
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Fresh parsley for garnish
Sea salt to taste
Not a fan of anchovies? Try tuna or chicken instead.
Make it plant-based by replacing anchovies with beans.
1. Cut spaghetti squash lengthwise and remove seeds with spoon.
2. Bake at 400 for 30-40 min (first 10 min bake with flesh down, then turn so skin is down for remaining time). Fork should pierce skin easily when squash is cooked. Note: Cooking time varies depending on the size of the squash. Check regularly to avoid overcooking the squash. You want the noodles to be ‘al dente’.
3. Use a fork to scrape out the strands of squash.
Time your spaghetti squash so that it’s done cooking around the same time as your sauce, so your noodles don’t cool.
1. In a large pan, sauté garlic, anchovies and red pepper flakes in 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium-low heat. Break apart anchovies.
2. Once garlic is lightly golden, add tomatoes and crush with a fork. Add some salt and cook at medium heat until tomatoes break down, roughly 10-minutes.
3. Add in olives and capers and let simmer on low heat for another 10-minutes.
4. Add cooked spaghetti squash into the puttanesca pan with 1 tbsp. olive oil and coat noodles with sauce.
5. Garnish with finely chopped parsley and serve!