Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Penne Puttanesca and "Ladies of the Night"

Did you know that, according to Rachael Ray, Puttanesca was used in the olden days in Italy as a way to lure men into brothels?  The "ladies of the night" would whip up a batch of this delicious concoction and then put the plates in the open windows of the brothel so the scent of the food would waft through the streets below and men would come flocking. 

I find this concept quite curious.  I'm pretty sure that the smell of garlic, capers, and olives is not the main motivator for these guys to be visiting a brothel.  Because its....a brothel.  And if you WEREN'T planning on making a visit on that particular day, say for example....if you were just not the type to partake in such things, would the smell of food really change your mind about that?  I don't know if I buy it.  Luckily, we are going to Italy in September so I'm going to be SURE to be on the lookout for plates of this bad boy strategically placed in the windows of suspicious looking buildings.  I'll let you know what I find.  And I should probably keep a close eye on my husband.

Speaking of my husband, Penne Puttanesca happens to be one of his favorite foods ever.  He used to order it from the Italian place around the corner from our old house at least once a week (see note about Ariana's Italian Grill in post #1), and I hesitated to even try because I was pretty sure that even Rachael Ray's version wouldn't stack up.  He says its pretty close, but he knows better than to say otherwise (see note in "about me" section).  I think its delicious, and I like that I can control what goes in there (ie less oil but more garlic).  Enjoy!

Pasta Puttanesca with Sauteed Shrimp
Source: Adapted from Rachael Ray

8 ounces whole-wheat penne or rigatoni
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced (I used 6)
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (I used basil)
1/4 cup pitted chopped Spanish or Greek olives (Kalamata olives are a must in my book)
2 tablespoons capers
1 teaspoon anchovy paste (I used 3 filets of real anchovies and just made sure to let them melt in the oil)
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 can crushed Italian tomatoes (splurge on the best you can find)
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 strips bacon, cooked and diced (I used 4 strips)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (I used shaved)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add pasta and cook according to the directions on the package.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over a medium flame. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the bacon, parsley, olives, capers, anchovy paste, oregano and crushed red pepper to the skillet, and saute for 2 minutes more. Add the tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in the arugula and simmer for 1 minute more, until the greens wilt slightly.
When the pasta is done, drain it and add it to the skillet, tossing it with the sauce to combine.
Top with grated cheese and sautéed shrimp

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