Friday, 1 May 2015

Hairy Bikers' Pasta Puttanesca

OCD Panic Rating: 1/5
Handwashes: 1

I'm perhaps relying a bit heavily on the Hairy Bikers as I navigate the early stages of my diet, but there's no doubt that the recipes are working for me.

Pasta Puttanseca (whore's pasta, as I'm sure you're all aware) is one of those marvellously satisfying pasta dishes that can be thrown together with cupboard staples and minimal effort.  I used passata in mine and also included anchovies, although there is some contention about how authentic their inclusion is in the recipe.  Not a real concern for me; I just like how they taste.

Puttanesca can be made in a few minutes but the recipe recommends simmering the tomatoes for a little bit in order to reduce the sauce down and intensify the flavour.  This is definitely recommended if you're using anchovies – they virtually dissolve into the tomato, leaving their deep fishy flavour behind.  The anchovies were the only problem for me with this recipe though.  I couldn't get the jar open at first.  When I finally did, I got anchovy oil everywhere, meaning I needed to clean my hands and half of my kitchen utensils.  User error, I'm afraid.

As it's a dish consisting of pasta, tomato sauce, anchovies, olives, capers and a bit of garlic, I felt confident that it was going to taste great, even if it looked a little messy:

Seriously, there is a real skill to making a dish of pasta look elegant. The taste was perfect though.  I added a small pinch of sugar to the sauce before serving just to take the edge off the saltiness of the ingredients and the acidity of the tomatoes, so the balance of flavour was just right.  I've had restaurant puttanesca that's left me gasping for water, but this was satisfying, deep and rich.  As I'm on the diet still, I used only 50g of pasta, but the sauce stopped it feeling too frugal.  By itself, it did for a quick lunch; with a serving of salad, it makes for an excellent dinner.  Definitely on the regular rotation.

Key Points:

  • Open your jars before starting cooking, and preferably do it over the damn sink.
  • If fish bones freak you out a bit but you like the anchovy taste (yeah, I know they're tiny bones but they set my OCD off like nothing else), break the fish up in the frying pan before you add the tomatoes, then let them simmer in the sauce for a bit.  The bones all but dissolve away, leaving you the flavour without the fuss.

Win Rating: 5/5

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