recipe: Pasta Puttanesca with Diced Eggplant - new twist on a classic Italian dish
Peggy Lampman | Contributor
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I've had requests of late for a Pasta Puttanesca recipe. With all of the recipes I've penned, I'm surprised it's not a part of my repertoire. After all, I (and you too, more than likely) have been making super-fast, impromptu Puttanesca versions from pantry staples for years.
Classic Pasta Puttanesca recipes vary according to regions in Italy, and there are a zillion recipes on-line whose commonalities include tomatoes, chili peppers, garlic, capers, anchovies and olives — all ingredients many of us usually have on hand. The name translates to "whore's pasta" — rough, I know, and I imagine it has to do with the heat of the dish. (I'm just sayin....don't shoot the messenger.)
I used whole grain pasta and added diced eggplant to the sauce. Not traditional to a classic Puttanesca, but eggplant is oh so wonderful in sauces such as this. Feel free to omit the eggplant if going for a classic style. If doing so, decrease the capers by a tablespoon and the olives by a quarter cup.
Yield: 6 servings
Time: 30 minutes
1 globe eggplant, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice (4 cups)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2-1 (2 ounce) tin anchovy fillets, drained*
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped (reserve tomato liquid for another use)
1/2 cup chopped oil-cured Italian or kalamata olives
3 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon tomato paste
12 ounces dry spaghetti (I used whole wheat)
Fresh chopped basil, optional
*1/2 can lends a subtle, salty flavor. Adding 3/4 to a full tin lends a more assertive flavor, which anchovy fans appreciate.
1. Lay diced eggplant on paper towels and lightly salt. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
2. Heat oil, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes in a large skillet over medium heat 1 minute. Add anchovies to taste and continue to cook, breaking up anchovies with a fork. Add tomatoes and eggplant and stir to combine. Cook 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until eggplant is just tender. Add olives, capers and tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, an additional 2-3 minutes. Add additional hot pepper flakes to taste. (Note, the anchovies, olives and capers add plenty of sodium, so additional salt may not be required.)
3. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions or until al dente. Drain pasta and toss with sauce; serve garnished with chopped basil, if using.