Thursday, 7 August 2014

Mostly Puttanesca

As I woke up at 6am this morning to a lovely minus 6 degrees Celsius I did wonder why when living in Australia with it’s renowned balmy climes what the hell I was doing living in Bungendore.
As I trudged my way to the car with the frost crunching under my feet, the fish hidden under a thick layer of ice in the pond and I sat shivering in the car waiting for the heating to kick in and the windscreen to defrost I sensed that life was telling me that it was time for another jaunt to Italy. Short on actual funds to do that I will settle for a hearty warming Italian pasta dish. Comfort food at it’s best.

It starts with all good intentions. I go hunting for an authentic recipe for whatever world cuisine I am craving for at that moment in time. I create it true to form the first time around, it is yum and I cook it again. But something happens to that recipe over time. It evolves and forms into something new, sometimes recognisable, often not. My favourite ingredients manage to wiggle their way into the mix, quantities change, things become free form and each recreation of the dish becomes a metamorphosis of the original.

This is what happened to my Pasta Alla Puttanesca. My original version of this was based on a Nigella Lawson recipe that was aptly named “Sluts Pasta” as the name of this dish actually translates to Spaghetti a la whore. Immediately attracted to this interpretation I cooked it with Gusto, the salty olives, capers and anchovies complemented the sweet tomatoes and silky pasta so well that it become a go to recipe when the carb cravings hit hard.

My first unauthorised addition to this recipe was bacon, is any recipe truly complete without the wonder food bacon? Then came mushrooms because yum! So here is the current version I will call Basterdised Puttanesca or maybe it would be more polite to call it Mostly Puttanesca because well it is mostly a Puttanesca. I am certainly not saying this is the final version of this dish, is any recipe actually the best it can be? Probably not as it suits your tastes at that point in time and we all know tastes change and so too should your cooking.


225 grams Pappardelle Pasta cooked as per instructions on packet and reserve 2 tablespoons of cooking water
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves of garlic finely sliced
6 anchovies chopped
150 grams bacon diced
2 large flat mushrooms sliced or 6 button mushrooms quartered
400 grams of cherry or perino tomatoes halved
1/2 cup pitted whole Spanish olives
2 tablespoons capers drained
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 long red chilli
handful of chopped continental parsley
Grated parmesan sprinkled over the top to serve


  • Add olive oil to fry pan and heat on medium heat for 1 minute
  • Add garlic and anchovies and sautee for 1 minute
  • Add bacon and fry till golden, around 2 minutes, stir occasionaly
  • Add mushrooms, sprinkle with a little salt and a drizzle of olive oil and cook for a further 3 minutes till soft and slightly browned, toss occasionally 
  • Add tomatoes, tomato paste and chilli stirring to combine, cover and cook till tomatoes are broken down, around 7 minutes. Remove lid
  • Add olives and capers  and cook on a low heat for 5 minutes.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of the water the pasta was cooked to help combine the sauce
  • Turn heat off, add pasta to the fry pan and toss through, add parsley. Toss till all ingredients are well combined
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste
  • Sprinkle with a little grated parmesan
  • Enjoy!

Serves: 2 large mains or 4 small entrée size serves


  • This dish should have a little kick from the chilli's. If the long red chilli is not particularly hot, as they can be at some times of the year add another or swap for 2 birds-eye chilli's.
  • Time the Pasta cooking to be ready when the sauce is ready so you are tossing hot fresh pasta with the sauce
  • Close your eyes when you eat this dish and imagine yourself in the warm summers sun of the Piazza Navona in Rome. Follow up with some home made Gelato for an authentic experience.

Originally posted on Thursday, 7 August 2014 by


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