30 Before 30 Or, #5 – Dinner and A Movie – The Godfather II and Spaghetti alla puttanesca

Last year, I watched The Godfather and made a spaghetti pomodoro that was so good, I inhaled it before I was five minutes into the picture.

So for The Godfather II – a bigger, bolder film — I decided to make a bigger, bolder pasta dish.

Spaghetti alla puttanesca.

In Italian, the dish translates to Whore’s Style Spaghetti and there are several apocryphal stories as to its name:

The bold, spicy scent would lure in new customers.
It’s a dish composed of pantry staples that would be easy to whip up between appointments
It’s bold, pungent and spicy much like the creator of the dish…

I don’t know what the true story behind it is and I don’t really care. What I do care about is diving into an absurdly large amount of this spicy, garlicky dish while watching a cinema classic.

As usual, the music is the most important part of an culinary adventure and today, I’m kinda feeling The Black Keys – smoldering and salt-crusted, these boys are welcome in my kitchen any time.

Let’s get started, shall we?

You will need:

1 teaspoon of crushed chili pepper — My general rule when it comes to pepper is eyeball it. More if you’re any sort of real man; less if you’re some whimpering baby child.
1/4 cup of pitted black olives
1 14oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon capers
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot
3 cloves of garlic
1 serving angel hair pasta
Parmesan cheese to taste

Two notes:

One –

Traditionally, spaghetti alla puttanesca contains anchovies.
Being a vegetarian, I don’t eat anchovies.
I do, however, guzzle gallons of Worcestershire Sauce.

Yup. I’m a hypocrite.
Just like Michael Corleone.

Two –

You’re going to have leftovers when it comes to the sauce. No fear because tomorrow morning, you can make Uova in Purgatorio or Eggs in Purgatory. A poetic name for eggs poached in delicious, delicious tomato sauce.

Let’s get cooking, shall we?

Slice up the garlic and shallot. Try to get the garlic as thin as possible. Think Paulie in the jail kitchen scene in Goodfellas.

Chop up your olives into rough chunks.

While I was cooking, I got to hang out with Dana and that was awesome. You know what’s great about technology? Drinking with one of your best friends even though you’re 1000 miles apart.

Drizzle olive oil into a pan over medium-high heat. Throw in the garlic and onions and cook until brown.

Add the tomatoes and break down the tomato chunks with the back of your spoon. Let this gloriously aromatic mixture simmer on your stove for fifteen minutes. Your kitchen should smell incredible at this point.

While that’s cooking, start boiling water for your pasta. I used angel hair but you can use whatever you want – spaghetti, fettucine, linguini. I once heard that pasta water should taste like the ocean so salt it liberally.

While the pasta cooks, add the olives, crushed chili pepper and capers to your sauce. Simmer for ten minutes.

Ladle the sauce over your spaghetti, add parmesan to taste and dinner is ready!

Final verdict:

Delicious. The sharp briny taste of the olives and capers really plays well with the bite of crushed chili and garlic.

Dishes like this make me wonder why anyone would ever buy spaghetti sauce out of a jar. Twenty minutes, a couple of ingredients from your pantry and you’ve got an amazing, quick dinner that you’d be proud to serve guests.

Also, I think I have a new theory in regards to the dish’s etymology. When you eat it, you make the same noises one would make if they were patronizing a bordello.

Oh God.
That’s not just me, is it?

Now, if you’ll excuse me — I have a date with the Corleones and a very large bowl of spaghetti alla puttanesca.

I hope you make it and if you do, please let me know what you think.

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