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Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

March 14, 2012

A couple days ago I mentioned that I’m trying to use up the odds and ends stashed in our cupboards.  I discovered that somehow I have managed to accumulate lots of small amounts of pasta.  Here’s a list so you can get a full idea of the ridiculousness:

  • A quarter of a container of spaghetti
  • A few ounces of linguine
  • A few ounces of angel hair
  • Four (yes, 4) lasagna noodles
  • A  quarter of a box of penne
  • A quarter of a box of another type of penne
  • A handful of macaroni
  • Two handfuls of shells

I came across a recipe for pasta puttanesca, which uses a lot of the stuff that I’ve had in the pantry since before we moved into our house in August 2010.  I checked expiration dates, and nothing had gone bad yet!  I was most excited about using up the rest of the spaghetti, which, if I’m not mistaken, actually made the move with me from Atlanta to DC after I finished grad school in May 2009.  I can’t believe I’m admitting that on the internet.

Anyways, I decided to use up the linguine and angel hair along with the spaghetti.  However, all three of these pastas have different cooking times.  My first thought was to cook each type separately, but that would have taken at least half an hour.  Instead I looked at the cooking times for each box, got my water boiling, added the linguine first and set the timer for 2 minutes.  At the two minute mark I added the spaghetti and set the timer for five minutes.  After five minutes I added the angel hair and set the timer for another 5 minutes, which equaled a total cooking time of 12 minutes, at which point all of the pastas were (miraculously) equally al dente.

Any suggestions for things to do with more small amounts of pasta? All that comes to mind is preschool-style artwork…

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca
Adapted from Rachael Ray

I, misguidedly, didn’t research this recipe as much as I should have before I dove in.  The recipe I used (here) didn’t have enough tomatoes or olives to go with the pasta and I found myself searching for “bits” to pick up with each bite of pasta.  Plus it wasn’t spicy.  If you don’t have cherry tomatoes, use a couple cans of diced tomatoes.  About the anchovies: I know, it sounds gross.  But they pretty much dissolve when you cook them and all you get is a salty yummy flavor.  Even the bones somehow dissolve… it’s kind of strange.  Anyhow, the recipe below corrects the problems I encountered and should be even better than what I made (which, for all the “wrongs” was still pretty good)!

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tin flat anchovy fillets, drained
  • 1 /2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup chopped kalamata olives
  • 3 tablespoons capers
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
  • A few grinds black pepper
  • 1/4 cup  flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 8 ounces spaghetti, cooked to al dente
  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add oil, garlic, anchovies, and crushed pepper. Saute mixture until anchovies melt into oil and completely dissolve and garlic is tender, about 3 minutes.  Add olives, capers, tomatoes, black pepper, and parsley. Bring sauce to a bubble, reduce heat, and simmer 8 to 10 minutes.

Toss sauce with cooked pasta. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve.

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