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Vegan Planet

Saturday, January 19, 2008

 

Pasta Puttanesca

Another newspaper reporter and photographer were here yesterday – this time to do a piece on my new cookbook Vegan Fire & Spice and take photos of me and some recipes from the book. That was all the excuse I needed to make some favorites from the Italian section. I made Pasta Puttanesca, easily the best-loved pasta dish in my house, with its garlicky tomato sauce loaded with capers and black and green olives. As long as I had the olives out, I also put together a bowl of Spicy Olives, fragrant with lemon zest, and to go with them, Artichoke Hearts with Garlic and Capers. The hardest part of making these three recipes was waiting for the photographer to leave so we could dig in. Is it just my Italian heritage, or does anyone else love cooking with garlic, olives, and capers as much as I do?




Pasta Puttanesca

“Puttanesca” means “streetwalker style” in Italian. Some say because it was a quick dish for “working girls” to prepare after a busy night. Others say it’s because it’s irresistible. To me, this dish is all that and more.

2 tablespoon olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup imported black olives, halved and pitted
1/2 cup imported green olives, halved and pitted
3 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 pound spaghetti or your favorite pasta
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic. When the garlic becomes fragrant, add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring continuously to help break up the tomatoes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring continuously, until the tomatoes make a thick sauce. Add the olives, capers, and wine and keep warm. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti to the water and cook until it is al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and transfer to a large serving bowl. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings. Add the sauce to the pasta and toss to combine. Serve immediately, sprinkled with the minced parsley.
Serves 4




Spicy Olives

You can use a combination of black and green olives, if you like. Just be sure the olives are good quality imported olives as they have the best flavor.

2 cups brine-cured black or green olives
Zest and juice from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

Place the olives in a bowl. Add the lemon zest and juice, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Add the olive oil, stirring to combine. Cover and set aside to marinate for an hour or two or refrigerate and marinate overnight.
Serves 6 to 8




Artichoke Hearts with Garlic and Capers

When I was growing up, this old family recipe was always reserved for special occasion.

1 (9-ounce) bag frozen artichoke hearts
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon capers
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup toasted dried breadcrumbs

Cook the artichoke hearts according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the reserved artichokes, capers, and hot red pepper flakes. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer, stirring to blend the flavors for 3 minutes. Add the parsley and breadcrumbs and toss to combine.
Serves 4

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