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Pasta Putanesca

Originally a Silver Palate creation, this dish was all the rage about 1990. Each of my cooking friends had his or her own version. A few immodestly claimed to make it as well as I do. A Putanesca Cook-off was planned but never took place. Craig has conceded that my version is better than his, but still always tries to persuade me to use a second can of anchovies. Never do this! One can is plenty.

Never tell your guests about the anchovies until they have finished eating and raved about the dish. Many people don't like anchovies and cannot enjoy themselves knowing that this is what they are eating. Of the many anchovy-haters that have tried Pasta Putanesca at my house, not one has failed to enjoy the dish thoroughly. I sneak up on people with a clear conscience because I myself do not like anchovies but love Putanesca sauce.


Onion - 1 large yellow
Green peppers -2 or more
Olive oil
Anchovies - 1 tin flat
Olives - ripe, oil-cured Niçoise
Tomatoes - one large can whole peeled

Saute the onions and peppers (chopped) in olive oil. Add the remaining ingredients in order. Do not stir the sauce! Leave everything as discrete as possible. The whole tomatoes should be broken up somewhat as they go in. The olives should be seeded. The oregano should be fresh; use plenty. No salt should be added! Between the anchovies, olives, and capers, this may be quite a salty dish. To reduce the saltiness you can rinse the anchovies before adding them (I always do). Exact amounts of these three key ingredients are a matter of taste, depending on how savory or mild you like your dinner. Use a nice fat fresh spaghetti noodle, and serve al dente.


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