Friday, July 31, 2009

Puttanesca

Last weekend, my husband and I descended the long and boring road known as I-16 from the outskirts of Atlanta into the heart of Savannah, GA. There's a little shop there, tucked in the corner of the Publix shopping center (dangerously close to a Starbucks) called Kitchenware Outfitters. We could spend hours in there (and thousands of dollars) perusing the shelves of marvelous, culinary gadgets and inspirations. In my aimless ramblings, I stumbled across a packet of dehydrated veggies and herbs which claimed to make a puttanesca pasta sauce. I'd heard of puttanesca, but I had never tried it. As it was my birthday weekend, I plopped down my debit card and brought the little package home. It was rather cute; plastic bag, label printed in Italy, little ribbon in the colors of the Italian flag. Last night we decided to brave the puttanesca and discover for ourselves this strange combination of olives, capers, anchovies and herbs.

Per the instructions, the dehydrated veggies and herbs were put in a sauce pan with a cup of water and were allowed to simmer. When the water evaporated, we added several tablespoons of olive oil and sauteed the little guys for a few minutes more. It was then time to add a 24 oz. can of crushed tomatoes. Sure I would have loved to have picked the tomatoes fresh and crushed them myself, but I don't have a garden at the present moment so the can had to suffice. The sauce simmered merrily on the stove top and the smells were tantalizing. I'd never smelled a sauce quite like it before.

Though the recipe said puttanesca is traditionally served over linguine, we prepared a box of bow tie pasta. I like bow ties. They have the perfect nooks and crannies to hang on to sauce and cheese that would otherwise slide off a long, skinny noodle.

After a heavy application of Parmesan cheese (I'm kind of an addict), we settled down to enjoy our creation. O. My. Goodness. It was amazing! Way better than the sauce you buy in a bottle at the grocer's. I wanted to eat more, but my tummy was begging me to stop. To eat more would have been over kill. I'm very glad I didn't have seconds; I get it for lunch today :)

I found a recipe for fresh puttanesca (ours had some onions and green peppers which are not included in this recipe). I can't WAIT to try my hand at fresh veggies, herbs, and those strange little creatures called capers and anchovies. O, and when I do, I will most definitely crush my own tomatoes...

If you happen to try this recipe (or if you've had puttanesca before), let me know what you think! I'm such a foodie. I LOVE to try new foods and I adore hearing food stories.

Have a great weekend, and by all means, try a new dish! Try several. And don't forget to pop the cork of a favorite wine to go along with it. (Which, come to think of it, makes a grand idea for another post :)

Ciao!
Jen

9 comments:

  1. Oh, yum! I adore Italian foods. I'll have to try that recipe.

    Thank you!

    P.S. I suggest you put your links in a different color font so they stand out? I almost missed it! :)

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  2. Italian food is my favorite! I think somewhere in my ancestry there's a happy Italian grandmother who cooked amazing foods in a country kitchen.

    And thanks for the suggestion about the links! I thought about that the other day and it slipped my mind to change it! I'll definitely start doing that :)

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  3. Jen,

    I am with you on this one all the way. The kitchen may be the only place in my life where I slow down and smell the roses or more precisely the basil and sauteing onions. My paternal grandmother was italian and I learned so much about Italian food and cooking at her knee. My mother's side of the family was more about roasting meat and having every vegetable side dish imaginable and I guess from those two sources grew a deep love of cooking and more specifically, cooking Italian food. All I want to accomplish in life is a trip to Tuscany with my entire family to stay in a villa and eat, drink wine and revel in the Italian way of life. Italians practice the art of slow like no others. Someday (heavy sigh).

    I loved this post so, because I can completely relate to the joy that sauce brought to you.

    Ciao!

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  4. I always give any kind of food at least a try. When I was a kid my mother would make tacos and I would never eat the meat. I have no idea why. When I was finally wise enough to try it, I found my favorite food, and regretted that I hadn't tried it sooner.

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  5. DG: I, too, dream of Italy. To spend a month in Tuscany, sipping wine, waking early for espresso on the veranda overlooking a vineyard...wow. I just don't know if I'd ever return! And the food. My goal is to learn as many rustic Italian meals as I can and cook them with wild abandon!

    Ratty: I will try any food once. I've got into a little gastronomic trouble in India because of this, but at least I know for certain that I do NOT like curds or lasi! Next time, I'll politely decline and tell them I'm allergic!

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  6. Oh yeah...this is a GREAT dish, so forgiving and can be made with, virtually, anything in the cupboard. Forgot those little plastic wrapped bags of 'whatever'...go with fresh. Buy a bag of basil seeds and plant them in a pot, put pot where it can get sunshine, water it and start eating FRESH in a few weeks. Capers...OH MY GOSH...I ADORE capers and eat them right from the jar. No shame here! You'd be surprised at how many things contain anchovies and they make the most wonder addition to most any Italian dish.
    Try adding artichoke hearts in oil for a delish change of pace.
    Wine...a crisp, fruity, Portuguese green wine...so called because it's made from green grates and it's a new wine, meant to be drunk soon after bottling. A very light, bubbly wine that absolutely sparkles on the tongue.
    Or a Spanish red...riojo...full of deep, rich flavor that calls to the tongue bull fighting, flamengo and sultry eyes.
    Dave and I have a trip planned to Italy next month...we're staying on an olive farm and using train to get around. All this, of course, God willing.
    A Most Wonderful bottle of bubbly...sparkling wine...is St. Hilaire and at $12 a bottle, very affordable for special occasions.
    Read my New Year's Eve post of Jan 09...yeah, yeah, so it's not truly a NYE post...for the history on St. Hilaire...you'll be surprised.
    Thanks for visiting Thistle Cove Farm, very much enjoyed your visit!

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  7. Well Gosh. Of course, that would be graPes and not grates. Sorry.

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  8. Thistle Cove Farm: thank you THANK YOU for the tips and hints - the capers and wines. Mmmm...I enjoyed this comment immensely! I shall go and read your Jan. 09 post about St. Hilaire right away!
    Enjoy your trip to Italy! It sounds amazing. I can't wait to hear all about (because I'm certain you will be sharing on your gorgeous blog!)

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  9. I agree with you about bowtie. much better then skinny pasta

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