Thursday, March 18, 2010

CEIMB: Pasta Puttanesca

For my second week in the Craving Ellie in My Belly group, the recipe we were to make was Ellie's Pasta Puttanesca. This meal was chosen by Jen of What Jen's Cooking. The recipe is posted on her blog, but she cut it in half. I made the full amount, using a pound of pasta.

Okay, so first let me say that I was pretty scared to make this initially. I mean, there were ingredients in here that fall way outside of my comfort zone. It starts out innocently enough. It's got spaghetti. That's safe; that's delicious! Tomato-based sauce? You're still speaking my language. Capers? Hmm. Okay, I'm still with you. Olives? Eh....I'll try it out, but I don't generally like olives. Then came the kicker ingredient: anchovy paste. Huh? Fishy-ness? In my pasta sauce? I was dubious, to say the least. But Rachael Ray's always going on and on about how anchovies are delicious, that they taste like salted nuts, and let's face it, salted nuts really are delicious. So I reminded myself that part of the motivation for me joining this blogging group in the first place was to broaden my horizons, to try things I never would have dreamed I would try. I threw my skepticism to the wind and bought the proper ingredients for the meal, even though I was terrified just by picking up the anchovy paste at the store.

Finally, the day arrived to make the pasta. I took all the stuff out and set it on the counter that morning. I figured maybe staring at the tube of anchovy paste all day would get me used to idea of actually ingesting it. Instead it tortured me. I should have taken a picture of the thing sitting there, mocking me. I sucked it up, though. I made the meal. Here is a picture of the scary sauce simmering on the stove. Looks tasty, right?

Well, guess what? It really was! It was so good. I actually am ashamed now that I was so frightened of it. I should have known Ellie would never steer me wrong. The sauce was tangy, salty, and deep in flavor. The anchovy paste definitely adds something to it that I've never experienced before, and I liked it. The hubs loved it, too, but then I wasn't really worried that he wouldn't. If it's salty, he's in. Anyway, I am really glad that I didn't chicken out and omit the paste. I would definitely make this meal again; maybe soon! Thanks to Jen for a great pick!


  1. Yay for conquering your fears!! :) I have used anchovy paste before, and now I'm scared to use it again. I wasn't scared the first time, and I liked the dish I made, but the paste itself traumatized me. The smell and the texture. Ew. Someone else used fish sauce, and I think I might try that when I finally get to making this dish later in the week. I'm glad you ended up enjoying it!!

  2. ditto on Skinny. Making this weekend and I am determined to use anchovy paste.

    Yours looks delicious.

  3. Thanks to both of you!! I hope you guys enjoy this dish, too.

    Notsoskinny: it's funny you mentioned fish sauce; I had the same traumatizing experience with fish sauce that you did with anchovy paste! Maybe you'll have better luck with it.

    TeaLady: I'm really glad I was brave and used it. I'm even looking forward to finding other ways to try it out! Enjoy.

  4. Way to go! I also don't like anchovies but the anchovy paste disappears into the background and makes the dish better.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting. You made me realize I forgot to post this dish. Oops!

  5. Now I am totally inspired to make Puttanesca & to try anchovy paste. BTW Bri - I just discovered your blog via Andy's FB and find it to be wonderful!!

  6. I made the sauce and thought it was fabulous and flavorful!! It was my first time using kalamata olives, capers AND anchovy paste!!