Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Different Putanesta!

As you no doubt know the word "putanesta" means prostitute. As the story goes, when Italian Naval Officers came to port in Naples women were cooking pasta sauce - gravy in my family-and the smell of the sauce so enticed the naval officers that they had to find the women cooks --

Without venturing a guess as to the veracity of the legend -- here's a twist on the typical "putanesta" sauce.


1 lb of pasta -- penne works best ( I never use spaghetti or fettuccine with this sauce. It works best with a short pasta that has some body) (no pun intended)

2 tbs of tomato paste (if you want a thicker sauce you can use plum tomatoes or diced tomatoes about 1 cup)
1 bunch Swiss chard - rainbow is more interesting but not essential (wash and towel dry the Swiss Chard then pull the leaves from the veins and break apart into pieces that are larger than "bite size") (I never chop the Swiss Chard)
6 - 10 oz black olives kalamata olives - pitted work best
1 10 oz can of chick peas rinsed and drained
1 yellow onion diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 -2 tbs of olive oil
1 cup vegetable stock

In a large stock pot bring water to a boil - add 2 tsp of oil to the water. When the water comes to a boil - add the pasta. Cook stirring moderately until the pasta is slightly firm.
In a large skillet (I use a very large frying pan) heat the oil and then saute the onion and the garlic until translucent-- do not brown. Then add the tomato paste and cook for about 3 minutes. Turning the mixture so that it does not stick or burn. Slowly add the vegetable stock. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the Swiss Chard and simmer until the Chard is nearly cooked. Add the kalamata Olives and 3/4 of the cans of Chick Peas. Simmer for another 5 - 8 minutes.

Warm a pasta bowl by placing it under hot water and towel dry. Immediately add about 1/3 of the sauce (now cooked) into the bowl. Drain the pasta and then add it to the bowl on top of the sauce. Toss slightly. Add the remaining sauce to the pasta. Toss well and serve.

This should serve 4 hungry people -- If you are serving fewer people cut the amount of pasta you cook not the sauce. The sauce will store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Bon Appettito!

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