Here is a pasta recipe with an audacious name from the Neapolitan cuisine: Bucatini alla puttanesca (Bucatini a la whore). There are two different versions regarding its origin: one goes back to the beginning of the 900 with the owner of a brothel in the Spanish Quarter of Naples who invented the puttanesca to give refreshment to his “guests”. The other story finds the puttanesca origin in the island of Ischia where a chef, when pressured by guests late at nightto prepare una puttanata qualsiasi (any kind of nothing) with the few ingredients he had left from a busy night, he came up with this simple yet delicious and very popular sauce.
In the Roman version anchovies are added but I prefer the Neapolitan version that includes only black olives from Gaeta and capers.
For 4 people
320 g of bucatini or spaghetti (I prefer bucatini because of their bigger body and ability to retain the sauce)
400 g of peeled tomatoes (choose a good brand and check the ingredients- it should be just tomatoes)
a handful of capers (preferably in salt)
80 g of black olives with pit (the best for this recipe are the ones from Gaeta but I also like the very salty and deep black baked ones)
two cloves of garlic
dry hot pepper flakes
extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
salt q.b (quanto basta = to taste)
• Rinse the capers and place in a bowl with the black olives (half of which should be cut in small pieces, core removed)
• Peel the garlic cloves and brown them in a pan with 4 tbsp of oil and a pinch of chili pepper. Add the olives and capers, sauté for few minutes and add the chopped tomatoes. Cook the sauce over medium heat, uncovered, for about 25 minutes, adding 2 tbsp of chopped parsley halfway.
• Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente and drain. Transfer it to the pan with the sauce, toss it for a minute and serve immediately with the remaining parsley.
Notes: The secret to a perfect puttanesca is the goodness of the ingredients so avoid pitted olives and poor quality tomatoes because these ingredients make the difference (as for the quality of olive oil…it goes without saying!).
Also, I don’t recommend adding grated parmesan cheese, especially if you add anchovies as in the Roman version.