Monday, April 14, 2008

Quick and Tasty Pasta Puttanesca


This is a perfect dish for a Monday night. It takes only a few minutes to cook, and you can be enjoying a first class Italian meal. The puttanesca taste is based on the combination of anchovies, garlic and olives. Even if you don't like anchovies you should still give this taste a chance. The anchovy taste blends in so well that you won't notice any fishy taste. If you leave out the anchovies, this is still a really tasty dish.

In this variation I added grilled eggplants and fresh tomatoes. This really gives it a Proven├žal (pronounced pro-ven-sall) flavor. Proven├žal means from Provence, the southern part of France that contains the French Riviera. The dishes there often contain eggplant and tomato and resemble northern Italian dishes, but with their own unique flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb whole wheat rottini or penne pasta
  • 1 medium sized eggplant
  • 1 fresh tomato, diced
  • 6-10 medium sized Crimini mushrooms
  • 5 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 10 Moroccan or French dry cured olives
  • 10 green olives, I used martini olives because that's all I had, they worked fine
  • 1 can of anchovies, drained and blotted on a paper towel
  • 1 shake of sea salt for the tomatoes
  • Dry Oregano to taste
  • 2 oz Romano cheese
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Directions:

  1. Slice the eggplant and lightly salt, set aside to shed water
  2. Dice the tomatoes, place in a collander. Add some oregano and a shake of sea salt, stir and set aside to drain. This is to remove the excess water so it won't make the other ingredients mushy.
  3. blot the eggplant, brush with olive oil add garlic and dry oregano
  4. Grill the eggplant outdoors or bake for 30 minutes at 400o F
  5. Place pasta in boiling water, cook until slightly al-dente, about 7-10 minutes based on how firm you like it. Drain and set aside, covered so it won't dry out.
  6. Cut each slice of eggplant into quarters.
  7. Heat a frying pan, add olive oil, add 3/4 of the garlic, bring to a sizzle.
  8. Divide the garlic into 2 separate piles in the pan.
  9. Add the mushrooms to one of the garlic piles and add the olives to the other pile of garlic. Keep cooking the two piles separately for a few minutes. This is so that the water in the mushrooms won't affect the way that the olives cook.
  10. Mix the olives and mushrooms and top with some of the Romano cheese. Push to one side of the pan.
  11. Add a splash of olive oil to the other side of the pan and add the rest of the garlic, bring to a sizzle
  12. Throw the anchovies in with the garlic and stir. Bring to a quick sizzle and mix with the rest of the goodies in the pan.
  13. Add the eggplant and some of the cheese. Stir.
  14. Throw in the pasta and mix. Bring to a quick sizzle.
  15. Turn off the heat. Add the rest of the cheese and the tomatoes.
  16. Stir, and pour into a serving dish.


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