Folklore has it that Puttanesca was invented and cooked by prostitutes, to lure customers in. You know the saying … come for the Puttanesca, stay for the … ahem … dessert.
Of course, this is not what I’m thinking about when I make this dish for my family. To be completely honest, I’m barely thinking at all – prep time is so minimal, who has time to think?
The sauce starts drawing kiddies out to the kitchen to “talk about their days” within minutes of beginning to cook, and is ready and steaming in my pasta bowls in well under half an hour. Could not be more perfect for a weekday meal, but is far more interesting than good ol’ spaghetti night, and has way more protein, thanks to the beans. Plus, the recipe is a snap to double if desired, reheats beautifully the next day if you have leftovers, and the ingredients generally don’t require refrigeration (except maybe for the basil). So this is one of my “pantry-based” meals, which allows me some flexibility if I want to switch up my menu mid-week because I know my ingredients won’t die.
One last benefit to this recipe! You can make the sauce ahead of time (super fast and easy), and freeze it in a heavy-duty zip-lock back. When you’re ready to use it, throw the Puttanesca in a saucepan to thaw, and then just add your beans (or noodles, see below) and artichokes.
Notes about ingredient substitutions:
As always, this is made to customize for what your needs are. If you don’t like olives or capers, omit them (just don’t tell me, because you’ll break my heart a little).
You can always sub out the cannellini for traditional pasta, or even zoodles (zucchini noodles, though I tend to spiralize zucchini much more during the summer months), if protein content is less of a concern for that night.
Start with fresh tomatoes, if you prefer, though it will take more time – you’ll have to cook down your tomatoes (and peel them, if you’re a purist who doesn’t need to get food on the table within 20 minutes).
- 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 large onion, sliced thinly
- 28-ounce can diced plum tomatoes, undrained
- 2 tsp salt, fresh ground pepper to taste
- 4 x 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 x 15-ounce can artichoke hearts, quartered
- 1 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped in half
- 1/3 cup drained capers
- 1 cup (about 0.75 oz) chopped fresh basil
- Parmesan cheese
- *optional, red pepper flakes
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until glossy. Add sliced onion and sauté until soft, but not burned, about 3-4 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid charring and sticking.
- Add garlic and stir quickly for about 30 seconds, until golden, but not brown.
- Add the tomatoes, and bring to simmer. If you have any extra time (kid jumped in the shower after gymnastics practice and hasn’t come out yet?), this is where you want to spend it – you can proceed with recipe immediately once you’re simmering, but any extra few minutes you give it here will make it that much tastier. Add your salt and pepper.
- Add cannellini beans, and cook for another 3 minutes.
- Add artichoke hearts, olives, and capers, and simmer for another 5 minutes (you can start up your garlic bread in the meantime). Check for seasoning, then add the shredded basil and stir.
- Serve warm with Parmesan cheese if desired (we don’t typically use this), or red pepper flakes (we do typically do this).
1.- Slice the baguette in half length-wise, and lightly butter both halves, or brush with olive oil. Place cut-side-up on a jelly roll pan.
2.- Sprinkle with garlic powder and parmesan cheese, and place cut-side-up in oven at 400 degrees for 3-4 minutes (check on it halfway through, burnt bread makes me sad). Finish with a short toasting under the broiler.
Serve, and have people marvel at the nutritious culinary masterpiece you threw together in less time than it took them to swear to you there was no homework this week.