My love for olives began when I was less than a year old. When I started teething, I loved to suck on lemons. My parents and grandparents were amazed and started giving me other foods that you would not expect someone so young to like, such as dill pickles, shrimp and yes, olives – I loved them all and still do. Back then, my dad and grandparents would give me the green olives stuffed with pimentos, but since then I’ve branched out and really haven’t met an olive I didn’t like.
The other night I was craving spaghetti with some sort of tomato sauce and decided to make pasta puttanesca, which is full of olives. According to the online version of Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the origin of the word puttanesca is Italian and is short for alla puttanesca, or “in the style of a prostitute.”This sauce, with its olives, capers, garlic and tomatoes, will certainly seduce you, making you happy to go for another round. Since I’m not eating meat right now, I opted to make the Neopolitan version, which does not include anchovies. But feel free to add them to the sauce – it gives it another lusty layer of flavor.
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- ½ cup celery, chopped
- ½ cup sweet onion, chopped
- 1 tin flat anchovy filets (this is for the traditional version and I didn’t use it in this particular recipe since it’s non-vegan)
- 1 cup of assorted pitted olives in oil (available in many grocery store “olive bars”)
- 2 tablespoons drained capers
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 can (32 oz.) whole tomatoes
- 1 can (14.5 oz.) tomato sauce
- ½ cup decent red wine (don’t use what you wouldn’t drink)
- 1 teaspoon sugar (optional, but it does help cut the acidity of the tomatoes)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- Freshly ground pepper (to taste)
- Garlic salt (optional – taste the sauce before adding because the olives are quite salty)
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic, celery and onion, and sauté for a couple of minutes, until the onion is soft. (If you are adding the traditional anchovies, add them at this step and cook until they have dissolved.)
Add the olives, capers and red pepper, and sauté for 5 minutes or so.
As the olives, etc cook, place the canned tomatoes with the liquid in a large bowl and break them apart, leaving some chunks.
Stir in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, wine, oregano, Italian seasoning, black pepper and sugar to the olive mixture. Simmer on low for 30 minutes or so to let the flavors blend together.
Serve over cooked noodles with a nice tossed salad, Italian bread and a glass of good red wine.
Eat, drink and be merry!