Spaghetti Puttanesca for Two

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Rumor has it, at one time the scent of this delectable Italian dish wafting out of brothels would entice prospective customers. That may or may not be true, but I think there could be a point to the lore. This was the most pleasing pasta dish I’ve eaten since Bucatini Carbonara. It certainly does smell amazing and tastes delicious. The wafting aroma of this Spaghetti Puttanesca should certainly be enough to make the neighbors jealous!

slightly adapted from: Extra Virgin
serves: 4

1/2 pound tomatoes
kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1 garlic clove, sliced
2 anchovy fillets, or 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste*

pinch of hot red pepper flakes
1 ounce Gaeta or Ponentine black olives, pitted and sliced
1/2 tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped
1/2 pound spaghetti
finely chopped Italian parsley, for garnish

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Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Submerge the tomatoes in the boiling water for 1 minute, then remove and peel them. Slice the tomatoes in half, remove the seeds, and cut into small cubes.

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In an 8- to 12- quart pot, bring 6 quarts of salted water to a rolling boil for the pasta.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the garlic, anchovies, red pepper flakes, olives, and capers and sauté  for 3 to 4 minutes, so the flavors can meld. Use a wooden spoon to break up the anchovies. Add the tomatoes and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, being mindful that anchovies and capers play a big role in flavoring your puttanesca.

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Meanwhile, add the spaghetti to the boiling water and stir the pasta so it won’t stick together. Cook until al dente. Drain and add to the skillet with the rest of the ingredients. Toss well over medium-high heat for up to 2 minutes.

Serve in a large bowl with a sprinkle of parsley and a drizzle of olive oil on top.

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* Anchovy paste is a salty paste made from ground anchovy fillets. I find it easier to use than actual anchovy fillets. It is sold in tubes which are kept in the refrigerator. (Kind of like tubes of tomato paste.)

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