20 September 2008

Pasta Puttanesca

Thursday, I was exhausted.  I've been watching the BBC show How clean is your house and have gotten a bee in my bonnet to clean the house.  Not that my house is anywhere, ANYWHERE close to the hovels that those people live in, but vigilance is key in the war on dirt so I've been cleaning.  Normal things like bathrooms, dusting, etc. but also above the top things like dusting my walls, scrubbing my baseboards and organizing my CD collection.  By Thursday, the decision of what to make for dinner was almost more than I could bear and I started fantasizing about The Olive Garden.  But what I really wanted wasn't necessarily Olive Garden, but some homey pasta.  I remembered I had a tin of anchovies in my pantry and also remembered eating a yummy dish called Pasta Puttanesca in Italy (which uses anchovies), which lead to thinking about foccacia and voila...now you know how my thought process works.
Pasta Puttanesca is translated from Italian into "whore's pasta".  No one really knows for sure how it got it's name, but the common belief is that brothels would offer a cheap dinner of pasta puttanesca to lure customers in.  Sounds good to me.  My favorite explanation from wikipedia is pasta puttanesca is basically pasta with tomato sauce which has been "tarted up".  However it got its name, it is a tasty, tasty dish that smells divine and is also easy.  I served it with an easy foccacia made in my bread machine to sop up all of the yummy sauce.  I was so enthusiastic about this dish and how it smelled and tasted, that when I was describing it to my pregnant sister, it sent her into craving mode and she made it the next day.  Enjoy!

Pasta Puttanesca by Joie de vivre

2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tin of anchovies (2 oz)
3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 Tbs. capers
1 14.5 oz. can chopped tomatoes
2-14.5 oz. can tomato sauce
4 Tbs. olive tapenade or about 20 oil-cured black olives, chopped
1 pound spaghetti, cooked to al dente

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and contents of anchovy tin (oil and all).  Stir anchovies over heat until they dissolve into oil.  Add olive tapenade, red pepper flakes, capers, tomatoes and tomato sauce with a little bit of black pepper.  Bring sauce to a gentle boil and simmer for 8 - 10 minutes.

Thyme Focaccia adapted from Betty Crocker's Bread Machine Cookbook

Layer in order listed in your bread machine pan:

3/4 cup water
2 Tbs. olive or vegetable oil
2 cups bread or all purpose flour
1 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. yeast

Set machine to dough setting (Should take about 1 1/2 hours).  Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a cookie sheet or pizza pan and pat dough into a 12 inch circle on pizza pan.  Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.  Make deep depressions in dough at 1 inch intervals all over dough with finger or the handle of a wooden spoon.  Drizzle with 3 Tbs. olive oil.  Sprinkle with fresh thyme (or rosemary as original recipe suggests) and some coarsely ground black pepper.  Bake 15 - 18 minutes or until edge is golden.  Cut into wedges and serve warm.

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