Pasta is a food that most people like. There are tons of variations, and it can be really quick and easy to make. Unfortunately, it sometimes gets a bad reputation for being unhealthy, or “fattening”. The good news is that pasta (like most foods) can easily fit into a healthy diet, assuming portion sizes are reasonable. Did you know that one serving of pasta is only 1/2 cup, cooked? That is a pretty small amount. If you went to a restaurant, you’d likely get at least 4 times that amount, if not way more. That can be a whole day’s worth of your grain products servings! And no, Gluten Free pasta is no healthier for you if you are not medically required to be on a Gluten Free diet.
When I make pasta at home, I almost always use whole wheat pasta. I like the nutty flavor better, plus because of the extra fiber, it can be more filling. This applies when I make my favorite pasta, Spaghetti Puttanesca, too. This is a dish I have made for many years for both quick weeknight meals and for entertaining. It actually came to be requested when friends would come to visit. I gladly obliged since it is so easy to make.
If you haven’t had it, or heard of it, puttanesca is a flavorful sauce with tomatoes, olives, capers, anchovies, garlic and red pepper flakes. It is salty and savory with a bit of a kick from the pepper flakes. If you think you don’t like anchovies, don’t omit them. They break down in the sauce so that you won’t even know they are there. They just add a nice salty savory flavor without any fishiness. If you don’t like olives and/or capers, you probably won’t like puttanesca at all, so skip it all together.
This dish, from start to finish, takes no more than 20-30 minutes. First the garlic, anchovies and pepper flakes get lightly cooked until everything is nice and fragrant. A total of 2 or 3 minutes.
The the tomatoes get added and cooked down slightly, another 8 minutes or so. Then the capers, olives and parsley get tossed in, and the whole thing gets mixed in to your spaghetti, which you have been boiling while the sauce cooks.
Tomorrow I’m leaving for leg two of my fall travel extravaganza – driving to Alberta to visit family and friends. Since I’ve barely cooked anything for the past month and I’ll be busy visiting, I doubt I’ll have much time to keep you swimming in recipes. I’ll be back up and running on a regular basis in early November.
- 1 lb whole wheat spaghetti
- 4 cloves medium garlic minced or pressed
- 1 Tbsp water
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 4 tsp anchovy paste or 8-10 minced anchovy fillets
- 28 oz can diced tomatoes drained with 1/2 cup juice reserved
- 3 Tbsp capers
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives pitted and coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
Cook pasta to al dente according to directions on the package.
While pasta is cooking, mix garlic and water together in a small bowl. Heat the oil, garlic water mixture, pepper flakes and anchovies over medium heat in a large skillet. Stir frequently and cook until garlic is fragrant but not browned, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and simmer until slightly thickened, about 8 minutes.
Drain spaghetti and toss it with 1/4 cup of the reserved tomato juice.
Stir olives, capers and parsley into the sauce. Pour sauce over pasta and toss to combine. Add the remaining tomato juice if necessary to thin the sauce.