Friday, May 6, 2011

May 6: Spicy Shrimp and Penne with Puttanesca Sauce

1 pound penne pasta
   Coarse salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
8 to 10 whole anchovy fillets
1/2 cup cracked, pitted, good-quality black olives, such as kalamata, or 1/3 cup pitted oil-cured black olives (saltier taste), your choice, coarsely chopped
3 to 4 tablespoons capers, drained and coarsely chopped
1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 pound (24 count) peeled and deveined shrimp, tails removed
2 handfuls fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped

Place a large pot of water on to boil. When it comes up, add the penne pasta and salt.

While the pasta cooks, heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the EVOO, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, and anchovies. Break up the fish with the back of a wooden spoon until they melt into the oil. The fish will develop a nutty, salty flavor; if you think you don't like anchovies, try this ONCE and you will! Add the olives, capers, and tomatoes. Bring the sauce to a bubble and add the shrimp, scattering them in a single layer.

Cover the pan to cook the shrimp, 3 to 4 minutes. They will turn pink, opaque, and firm. Uncover the pan and add the parsley. Toss and adjust the seasonings to taste.

When the pasta is al dente, drain it well and add it to the sauce. Toss to combine and serve hot.


Ok, so I took some short cuts for this recipe. It is Friday night, and my Dear Husband wanted comfort food. It's basically the same thing without all the oily saltiness of the Puttanesca sauce. I just used a jar of pre-made pasta sauce.

Rachael Ray explains what Puttanesca is: "Puttanesca is a sauce named after streetwalkers. The ladies would make pots of a fishy-smelling mixture of tomatoes, anchovies, and garlic and leave the pots in brothel windows to attract fishermen in like stray cats. After the business was done, the sauce was tossed with pasta and became their dinner, or breakfast. This is a very unappetizing story for sauce a delicious dish, so when I am asked what "it" means, I tell a slightly less descriptive version, which you can pass along: Puttanesca is the sauce of the ladies of the night because it's spicy, fast, and easy! (It still makes me blush, but at least I remain hungry.)"

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