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Puttanesca (if, by Puttanesca, you mean a bunch of stuff over pasta)

August 11, 2009

Rumor – and wikipedia – keep calling spaghetti alla puttanesca whore’s spaghetti. Which sounds mean, but also sounds perfect for a dish that is meant to be spicy, tangy and somewhat salty. Plus inexpensive, easy to find and typically “Mediterranean.”
The basic REAL puttanesca recipe goes something like this: roughly chopped garlic, diced onions, and anchovies sauteed in olive oil. With chili peppers, black olives, capers, and diced tomatoes added, and the whole thing simmered and decreased into a gooey sauce.

Growing up, “puttanesca” was a much broader catch-all. It meant we were having pasta with any veggie and protein that needed to be used up, and eventually even the tomato-based sauce could mean something besides tomatoes. And I can promise you, there was never any anchovies. At my house when I say puttanesca, this is what I’m talking about. VERY broad interpretation. Like, whatever I had that would go good together + whatever we recently picked up in our CSA and/or the farmers market.
The Griggstown Farm Market Chicken Sausage with Feta Cheese and Fresh Spinach has become instantly one of my favorite meats from our CSA. Plus CSA eggplant and backyard basil and cherry tomato (also, technically, from Greensgrow, as they are my successful creation from my Super 100 plants). Knowing me, I probably dropped a few garlic cloves in here, too.

Chopping, dicing, shredding, I heated some olive oil in my largest sauteed pan over medium heat and added the chopped sausage and eggplant (since the sausage takes the longest to cook, and the eggplant tastes even better once it has soaked up sausage grease…hmmmm sausage grease…). This needs to be stirred occasionally, to get the sausage cooked on all sides. After about 5 minutes, I turned the heat down to medium and added the cherry tomatoes (this is where you’d add any other vegetables you might be inclined to add). The cherry tomatoes were directly from our backyard and I gotta say, you can taste it. There’s nothing even close to as local as five steps away from your house.

And because I can’t leave well enough alone, while the pasta was cooking into up to about al dente, I added in a little bit of white wine – by which I mean, about a cup? – to make the mixture of sausage and veggies a tad bit more saucy (ha, in every meaning of the term). The drained al dente pasta got tossed on top and tossed around to coat evenly.

And thats all she wrote. Well, not really, if the she’s me, cause I’m still writing. But this was definitely the “fin” moment. Little bit of salt and pepper, and the pasta had some truly fresh and summery flavors. The wine definitely helped. Going with something super crisp made the cherry tomatoes pop, and worked well with the feta and the spinach in the sausage. And because the feta in the sausage was the lone cheese taste in this dish, it still hit you hard. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

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