There are many theories when it comes to today’s recipe, Pasta alla Puttanesca, whether in its origin or the story behind its name. Some (many celebrity chefs in the UK) would say that Pasta alla Puttanesca means the way a whore would make it! But my Italian friends will tell you that the name behind this dish refers to the contrasting mix of flavours and ingredients that make it up!
“Che puttanata” in Italian basically means “what a mess!”. This is in reference to the sauce, the sugo alla puttanesca, as if no thought went into making it, just a “let’s chuck in whatever we can find” approach. Hence the name: pasta or spaghetti alla puttanesca, a pasta dish whose sauce is, essentially, a mess! You know, like something you’d put together from whatever was at hand, without actual planning – that’s what this pasta really means! Don’t believe everything a celebrity chef tells you!
As with any much loved and treasured recipe, this one has variations depending on the cook. Some leave out the anchovies altogether, some use fresh tomatoes while others won’t even think about using chillies. Cooking, like eating, is a very personal and subjective pastime, so you make it the way you like it, without changing the foundation. I love anchovies and I certainly love my chillies, so you’ll find both these in my sugo alla puttanesca. You can adjust the amount of chilli or chilli flakes in the recipe or do without it altogether if you’re not a fan.
You might fancy checking out my Italian page here and my Mediterranean Mélange collection on Google+.