Tasting Tuesday: Spaghetti alla Puttanesca, Inspired by Jim Carrey

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Whenever I see “puttanesca” on a menu, I think of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, a movie starring Jim Carrey as “Count Olaf.” If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it – wonderfully creepy original soundtrack. According to IMDb, here is the synposis: “When a massive fire kills their parents, three children are delivered to the custody of cousin and stage actor Count Olaf, who is secretly plotting to steal their parents’ vast fortune.”

In one scene, Count Olaf has his wretched friends over and demands that the children make a meal for his guests, using whatever is in the kitchen. The kitchen is absolutely barren, filled with not much more than cockroaches and rotting canned goods. Spotting some pasta in a drawer, the crafty oldest girl decides to make Spaghetti alla Puttanesca. Her smart brother quickly points out that puttanesca is the Italian word meaning “very few ingredients.”

Thanks to Jim Carrey, I always knew the meaning behind Puttanesca. Apparently you can learn from watching TV…. fancy that! Watch a clip from the scene here:

While obviously this dish is nothing fancy or creative, it is an Italian classic and therefore, I wanted to Inspiralize it and feature it on the blog. I was a bit hesitant at first to cook with anchovies – they are so unappetizing, locked in that little aluminum tin sitting on the grocery shelves. When I opened the tin and grabbed one, I shuddered a little. If Anthony Bourdain ever read this post, he’d roll his eyes (if you are reading this – I loved Kitchen Confidential!) But man, do they make this pasta dish rock! The second the anchovy hits the skillet, your entire kitchen smells delectable. The flavors of this simple, quick pasta are really surprising- in a great way!

Be careful when you crush the tomatoes with your hands (a suggestion made in Martha Stewart’s puttanesca rendition)…. mine splattered everywhere. Oh, the adventures of an amateur cook…. I decided to make this recipe for one, as I envision my readers curling up on the couch on a rainy summer night watching Lemony Snicket’s and slurping up a bowl of this. Do it – you’ll thank me later.

Zucchini Pasta Puttanesca

Serving size: 2
Time to prepare: <5 minutes
Time to cook: 10-15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 zucchini, Blade C
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1-2 anchovy filets
  • 1 (14oz) can of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup sliced Kalamata olives*

*Traditionally, this recipe calls for black or green olives, but I think Kalamatas give it an extra kick and saltiness.

Directions

Place a large skillet over medium heat and add in olive oil. Once oil is heated, add in garlic and anchovy filet(s). Cook until anchovies mainly dissolve into oil.

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Over the skillet, crush the whole tomatoes with your hands. Pour in about half of the sauce from the can. Use a wooden spoon to further “crush” the tomatoes. Add in about 1 tsp of the oil from the anchovy tin and the rest of the ingredients (parsley, capers, olives and salt and pepper). Simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until liquid from the sauce is evaporated.

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Once the sauce is evaporated, add in the zucchini noodles and cook for about 2-3 minutes or until zucchini begins to soften. Enjoy!

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