Tuesday, 10 February 2009

I will not make a cheap joke about the name of this dish, I will not make a cheap joke about the name of this dish...

Apparently your typical Brit has pasta once a week, but Mike and I must be dragging the national average down a bit as I make it about twice a year. I think I just never find it particularly inspiring - in my first year of university I did the usual student thing of buying it by the bagful as I was constantly being told what great value it was, and then never got much beyond eating it unkooked for breakfast. (Yes, I am too impatient to wait for water to boil. On the bright side, I can report that those rumours about dried pasta expanding in your stomach and causing it to explode are spurious.)

There only are two pasta recipes in Lighten Up, so this project isn't going to up my average all that much, but I ticked one of them off last night in the form of:

4. Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Just in case you're not up to scratch on your underworld Italian, the name of this dish translates as "spaghetti the way a whore would make it". According to Dupleix this is because it was quick enough for prostitutes to throw together between clients, though another school of thought holds that the name refers to the pungent smell. (Well if that doesn't whet your appetite...) The recipe's from the 'Easy Food' chapter but it'd fit happily into 'Fast Food' too, which is just as well as Mike was off at a wood carving course for most of the evening and I didn't start cooking till almost 10 o'clock. All you have to do is put your spaghetti on to cook, and while it's simmering away you soften some garlic and anchovies in a pan, then throw in the rest of the ingredients (tinned cherry tomatoes, black olives, dried chilli, capers and dried oregano) and cook for five minutes. I know anchovies fall into the love-'em-or-hate-'em camp, but even if you can't normally stand them you might be OK here as they melt into the sauce. Besides, as we all know, anchovy oil is the most effective robot lubricant. But anyway! To finish off you stir in a splash of the pasta cooking water, some chopped parsely and black pepper (Jill actually says to add salt as well, but who wants extra salt in a sauce containing both anchovies and capers?), then drain the spaghetti and toss it all together.
Not the most exciting-looking meal in the world, but it's incredibly flavoursome, and so quick to put together that it might even overcome my pasta inertia. Maybe.

Mike says: "Tasty tasty tasty, I always fancied myself as a prostitute and if I get to eat this dish as part of being in the profession then win-win. The quickness was amazing, so quick that when I requested seconds H made me some. Brilliant. Really nice rich flavours, I think this is what Italians must eat normally."

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