Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Linguini with Vegetarian Puttanesca Sauce

I had no idea that last post would generate such a strong reaction! Maybe I should just stick to posting recipes…

I was in NY this past weekend visiting my parents (and celebrating my brother’s birthday), which means that I came back to Baltimore with some of my mom’s awesome food, which also means that I’m not doing much cooking this week. So I’m posting something I made a week and a half ago and saved for a time just like this (i.e., when I’m not doing much cooking).

I absolutely love salty food: I adore olives, I think capers should be in just about everything, and firm salty cheese absolutely needs to be grated on top of pasta. So of course I love puttanesca sauce – it’s packed with olives and capers is also slightly spicy, which I also love. But the problem is that puttanesca sauce is always made with anchovies, which clearly do not fit into my vegetarian diet (I think that anchovies are creepy regardless of whether or not I eat animals). 

 If I wanted to partake of the salty goodness that is puttanesca sauce, I was going to have to make it myself. Much like the carbonara sauce I made a while back, this is another meat-free version of an Italian sauce that doesn’t at all suffer from the exclusion of meat. And it’s so so so good – just ask the bf, who isn’t much of a pasta eater: he came back for seconds…and thirds.

Linguini with Vegetarian Puttanesca Sauce
(serves 4-6)

1 pound dry linguini
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ - ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (I like things spicy and used ½ teaspoon)
2 tablespoons olive brine (from jarred olives) OR 2 teaspoons soy sauce (I've tried it both ways and the end result is the same)
2 tablespoons red wine (I used Jim Jim Shiraz, my new favorite $10 Shiraz)
1 28-ounce can of whole tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
20-25 pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
3 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese


Heat the oil in a large pot set over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until the onion is very soft and translucent, about another 3 minutes. Add your chosen salty liquid and the wine and cook until almost all the liquid has cooked off, about 2 minutes.

In the meantime, drain the tomatoes, reserving the liquid. Coarsely chop the tomatoes. Add the tomatoes, their juices, and tomato paste. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. Remove the lid and reduce the heat to medium-low; the sauce should remain at a simmer.

At this point, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions. When it is done, transfer it (using tongs) to the pot containing the sauce. Add the olives and the capers and toss everything until all the pasta is coated and the olives and capers are evenly distributed.

Top each serving with some of the grated cheese. Serve immediately with a big glass of red wine.


M^2 said...

This is absolutely delicious. Even if your not a big fan of olives, which I'm not, you should still give it a try. I promise you won't be disappointed. One of my favorites to date.

Meghan said...

This looks wonderful.... I love puttanesca and think your version is great!

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