Saturday, November 22, 2008

Simplified Pasta Puttanesca and Greens

Simplified? Why would one need to simplify Pasta Puttanesca, you ask? Mainly, it's because I don't really like capers and anchovies, two traditional ingredients in this dish, so I omit them. This is such a simple meal to make. You can easily make the sauce in the time it takes your water to boil and the pasta and greens to cook. Of course, you could use any type of pasta you like, but we think that the whole wheat penne goes really well with the sauce. (Bionaturae is the best brand we've found--not grainy or mealy at all). I really like cooking the greens right with the pasta, especially in the summer when we're extra-conscious about minimizing water usage.

Using my mini food processor makes the dish incredibly low-effort, but I'm sure you could do things by hand or use a large food processor (though you might need to double the recipe so that there is enough stuff in the processor for it to work effectively. I always do this recipe by instinct, so I'm not sure how exact my quantities will be. The beauty is, you can just follow your own instinct to get the flavor you prefer.

We usually get 3 or 4 nights worth of dinner out of it, but with the way Elspeth was sucking it down tonight, it might not last as long. It was encouraging, since she wasn't very fond of the leftover bok choy and tofu for lunch today, even though I added peanut sauce.

Serve with crusty bread to sop up the sauce.

ADDENDUM 11 FEBRUARY 2009--An even simpler (I think) version using both greens and carrots can be found at

5-6 cloves garlic
2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 c. pitted kalamata or mixed olives (or to taste)
1 28 ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes, diced tomatoes or ground tomatoes (I never use the kind that have basil or any other flavoring in them, though you may like to)
Small pinch red pepper flakes or to taste
Fresh ground pepper
1 bunch greens (kale, chard and spinach all work well), washed and chopped coarsely
Enough whole wheat penne pasta for your family for 1 or 2 meals (we like lots of greens so though the sauce lasts 3-4 nights, we often make pasta and greens every night or every other night)

  1. Place a large pot of water on to boil, covered, on high heat
  2. Chop the garlic (use a mini food processor if you have one)
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil
  4. Add the garlic to the skillet and coat with the oil; cook for a few minutes
  5. While the garlic is cooking, dump the pitted olives into the mini chopper and pulse until finely chopped (but not a paste)
  6. Add the olives to the skillet and stir well
  7. Add the red pepper flakes and some ground pepper
  8. If using whole or diced tomatoes (anything but ground), process them in the same mini chopper until very fine--I like to use the tomatoes ground up this way because I feel it makes a thicker, more luxurious sauce than having chunks of tomato with somewhat watery juice)
  9. Add the tomatoes to the skillet and stir; bring to a simmer then turn the heat to low and stir occasionally
  10. The pasta water is likely to be boiling now
  11. Add the sea salt and then the pasta and set the timer for five minutes less than the recommended cooking time
  12. When the timer rings, add the chopped greens to the pasta pot and stir
  13. Test the pasta for doneness when the full cooking time has elapsed and drain greens and pasta
  14. The sauce should be about done now, too. Taste and adjust the seasonings. You may wish to add some balsamic or red wine vinegar, more pepper flakes or ground pepper
  15. Serve up pasta, greens and sauce and enjoy

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