Putanesca you know that famous Italian dish with all the great stuff in it. The sauce is so good you can eat it with bread and butter no fork.
I was told by a friend who wasn't necessarily Italian but seemed knowledgeable about Pasta kinda things that Putanesca means "Whore's kitchen" . It is what she would make late at night with what ever was available to her (the whore not my friend). Well there is no one more resourceful than a prostitute, my friend is pretty resourceful too.
I had the opportunity to make my version of this dish a couple afternoons ago when my husband pulled a 1950's "Honey I am home and I brought some guys from work with me" I would have had steam coming out of my ears if it wasn't so comical.
You should have seen these engineers on my front lawn putting together some kind of scope or measurement thing, I don't know what it was but it came in two huge boxes and had to be strapped to the roof of an SUV to deliver after they did all the wrenching and putting together.
There they were three men with missing hair and golf shirts scratching their heads and speaking geekanese. The least I could do was put on an apron and find a frying pan, these boys would need to be fed.
I searched the kitchen and found
Sweet red peppers
Garlic (real garlic not garlic salt)
A half jar of sun dried tomatoes in olive oil
Basil from the garden
Two big cans of stewed tomatoes from Whole Foods, one was fire roasted (yummy)
Extra long spaghetti from Trader Joe's (kids love it, it's so messy)
I put my biggest pot on filled with water to boil. I don't add salt or oil to my water, never have, not sure why you are suppose to.
In that frying pan I found after I strapped on my apron I heated some olive oil and sauteed the onions and peppers. When they were nice and happy I threw in the sun dried tomatoes and the garlic that I peeled and halved. Then I began squeezing the stewed tomatoes, I love the way it feels.
After the tomatoes were all squished up I added the remainder of the sauce left in the can and let it all simmer under a lid. After it starts looking like sauce I add salt, pepper, a teaspoon of brown sugar and all that chopped up basil (the more the better in my opinion) . If you like it a little spicy you can add some red pepper flakes. Now turn it way down low to keep warm while you make a salad, heat some bread in the oven and drop the pasta into the boiling water.
I keep a loaf of really good bread in the house at all times, gotta have it.
When it is fresh you can use it for dinner, next day toast and jam and the next day or two you can make brushetta. If you have any left and we never do you can make croutons for salad.
I love Grace Baking, Semifreddi, and Fornio, they know how to make bread! They are also local so it is always fresh. Where ever you are in the world there has to be a bakery, if there isn't I don't want to live there. I must have good bread. Farmers markets are good way to find out who your local bakeries are.
I turn the oven to about 350, throw in the whole loaf and let it get nice and crispy. I serve it with real butter and/or a dish of olive oil, balsamic and a little pesto if I have it on hand. If you are feeling super creative try making a bread dip with Olive oil, balsamic, salt, pepper, pepper flakes, fresh chopped tomato and basil and lots of garlic.
The salad was one of my favorites:
Weed salad (spring mix)
Pine nuts (if you have time roast them in a pan with a tiny bit of oil)
Grapes (cut in half or you can use craisins)
Beets are an issue with some people but it might be something you want to try again. In the summer I roast my own beets, you just peel off the tough skin cut them in half and throw them in the oven with a little olive oil.
The rest of the year I buy them in the produce section of Trader Joe's. They are whole beets, pretty fresh and are shrink wrapped (much better than the can).
Pine nuts store well, or maybe they don't they do not last long around here but they have a very unusual flavor and are wonderful in salads. They might take some getting use to if you have never had them before but you will be addicted soon enough and finding other dishes to use them in.
The dressing is really easy, Olive oil, white balsamic, salt and pepper. I throw it all in the bowl with the salad and give it a toss.
My favorite thing to do is to pre-mix some sauce with the pasta after it is cooked and drained. It keeps it from sticking together and lets the pasta start absorbing flavor. I pile all this pasta on a platter I got at a garage sale a million years ago, it is so ugly alone but married to some pasta it is the most beautiful dish in the world. Before you bring it to the table and get everyone drooling, oohing and ahhing add more sauce and some Parmesan to the top. If you have some fresh basil you can sprinkle that too.
The grown-up nerds were quite happy with lunch, they were looking for the steak , fried chicken breast, or maybe a meatball I was hiding but there was none. It was a very big lunch and it took very little time to prepare. We ate the left overs for dinner that night.
For desert we had waffle-butter cookies and fresh strawberries.
Bliss, bliss, bliss...
God bless Putas.