Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Quick and Delicious

Tonight dinner needed to be rushed. I had less than an hour to get home, prepare and eat dinner, then hit the road to pick up my buddy, Crash, to go run a long series of errands neccesary before this weekend's epic ride. I came home and immediately got to work. I love cooking under deadline like this, it's fun to feel efficient and capable. That said, it's not like I havn't cooked this meal a thousand times before, this is a regular menu item in these parts and we nearly always have all the fixins ready in the pantry.

Pasta Puttanesca

First thing, I filled the big pasta pot with water, threw some heat under it. Got out my big cast iron skillet and did the same there. Next I quickly pulled apart and minced nearly a whole head of garlic. There were about 8 cloves used, all told. Open a small tin of anchovies and toss them and the garlic in the skillet. I hold a fork against the near edge of the little fillets and slice them across using a cheapo knife. It's easier to deal with than chopping them on a cutting board, plus I can use all the olive oil they are packed in this way. Throw in some red chili flakes too, let's make this spicy! Keeping the skillet on med/low heat let the garlic saute for several minutes until it softens and mellows. mmm.

I open a 6 oz package of pitted kalamatas. I like to rinse them in warm water before I throw them in. Otherwise they sometimes have a funny film on them that makes my teeth sqeak. If you don't suffer from this same affliction, skip that. Toss them into the skillet along with a 15 oz can of diced tomatoes and a little can of tomato paste. To that add a little over a cup of chicken broth.

Once it starts to bubble and boil, lower the heat and slap a spatter guard on top, if you've got one. If you don't, get one. I paid less than $5 for my set of three flat mesh screens and they have collectively saved me countless hours of stovetop cleanup.

Is your pasta water boiling? Add a pound of dry pasketti (as the kids say, you know). Make sure you give it a good stir after about a minute to prevent clumping. After that it will develop a little starchy coating so you shouldn't have to worry.

Letting your sauce simmer down, it should begin to thicken and darken after about 15 mins, you can keep simmering this almost indefinitely. As it thickens just keep adding a little more stock, it will get yummier and yummier as the first three ingredients continue to mellow into the tomatoes. But once you are almost ready to serve, go ahead and remove it from the heat and add 2 tablespoons or so of caper berries and a healthy fistful of parsley. Get flat or curly parsley, your prerogative , they taste exactly the same.

To serve this up properly: plate your pasta, add a healthy dose of sauce to the top, shave some romano cheese above that, and finish with some more fresh parsley. Pour a healthy glass of vino.

To eat this properly: dive in, make a mess of things and be sure to slurp those noodles. Vino to wash it all down.

Off to pick up Brian, pick up our rider packets, last minute stop at the bike shop and we hope to see you on route to Portland this weekend!


  1. This is my fav pasta dish fo' sho'!

  2. Is there a difference between sardines and anchovies? I used sardines last night, and it seemed to dominate the sauce. I was amazed at how quick, easy, and fun it was to make this sauce. No more jarred Ragu!

  3. Um, yes. There is a difference. You'll fare much better with anchovies. I imagine your sauce tasted like a 'seafood sauce,' not a bad thing, but not quite the same thing.