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  • Writer's pictureNava

Penne Puttanesca

Hi Everyone

I hope everyone is well, and for those of you who have been slaving over the stove for the Jewish New Year, I hope you are getting a much deserved rest.

For dinner I made my school’s Penne Puttanesca recipe and I didn’t DARE mix any of the homemade tomato sauce or cheese with the Penne Puttanesca out of respect to the, (according to my teacher) traditional Puttanescan way of preparing and eating Penne Puttanesca. Italian chefs are very strict about this dish as is shown by the following tale I heard recently from my teacher … let’s call him Pierre.

Pierre was dining at a quaint Italian restaurant and ordered his favourite, Puttanesca. Now he was happy to forgo the sauce but the cheese … no way! As a Frenchman it was a point of honour to insist upon some fromage, so when his meal arrived he asked the waiter for some parmesan.

The Italian waiter said he will ask the chef. It probably wasn’t a good sign that he shuddered before he left. Moments later he returned and intoned, rather vehemently,

“NO! sorry sir, the chef said NO!”

Pierre: “What is this? No, you tell the chef I want cheese.” With a look of martyrdom the waiter went into the lion’s den again only to return but moments later.

“I am sorry, sir, but the chef said, absolutely NO! What you ask is impossible. We do not serve sauce or cheese with Puttanesca here.”

Nodding with apparent resignation, Pierre told the waiter he needed to step out for a minute as he has forgotten something and asked him to keep his meal warm for him. Slipping out of the restaurant, he crossed the road and walked into a local delicatessen where he purchased a block of parmesan cheese.

Returning to the restaurant, he sat at his table and got his meal back nice and hot.

He looked at the waiter and said, “Now if you could be kind enough to get me a cheese grater…”

After hearing this story I decided to prepare the sauce and serve it in a separate bowl that way I’m still honouring tradition and hopefully not offending anyone.

This way you can add the sauce and cheese on your Puttanesca, what you do behind closed doors is your business….

Having said that, I have done some research since and found out several versions of how this dish came about and I have to say there is nothing that says it’s not meant to be eaten with sauce, however, what I did find was quiet saucy; The first thing I searched was the meaning of Puttanesca and according to google it means in the style of the whore” this prompted me to research further….

Sure enough, I sunk my teeth into some interesting reads and I chose to share the most scandalous one. Apparently it was invented in the 1800 in Naples, by the culinarily ladies of the night, they cooked it for two reasons one to entice any potential customers with its potent aroma, and 2 it was easy and quick to make so they could get back to business in no time.

Whatever the story this dish is super delish made with capers, olives and anchovies served with al dente pasta it’s easy to cook and if you don’t make the tomato sauce it literally takes minutes to make.

This mean Puttanesca is packed with flavour and aroma and is a great meal for the whole family!

Penne Puttanesca


200g Penne pasta

40mls olive oil

2 garlic cloves

1 chili (bird’s eye)

2 large tomatoes

100g pitted kalamata olives

20g anchovies

30g capers drained

½ bunch flat leaf parsley

½ bunch Basil

Black pepper cracked


Add water to a saucepan and add roughly ½ a tablespoon of salt (for 200g of pasta), and bring water to the boil. Add penne to the boiling water and cook until al dente.

Fill a separate saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Using a sharp knife, cut a shallow X at the bottom of each tomato and place them in boiling water. Cook for 60-90 seconds. The skin should crack open. Take out tomatoes with a slotted spoon, place into a bowl with ice cold water and set aside.

Drain the pasta through a colander and coat with a little of the olive oil.

Peel de-seed and chop up the blanched tomatoes.

Finely chop the garlic and chilli. Wash the capers and slice the pitted olives.

Pick, wash and chop the parsley and basil leaves.

Heat the remaining oil in the saucepan and add the garlic, black pepper, chilli, chopped tomatoes, olives, capers and anchovies, and give it a good stir.

Add the cooked pasta to the saucepan and toss through gently to reheat.

Add the chopped herbs and enjoy .

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