I'm exceptionally dull when visiting regular Italian restaurants. Generally I don't need to bother looking at the menu. If I'm in the mood for pasta, then I pretty much always order one of three things. All of them are tomato-based. All of them I can make easily at home myself. Yet still I hear them calling.
A particular favourite is pasta puttanesca. Named after the 'ladies of the night' it is packed with punchy, gutsy flavours. Anchovies, capers, olives, chilli, garlic; subtle this is not!
Whilst I frequently order pasta puttanesca, until recently I have never thought to re-create it at home. I don't know why as it is super simple. I was inspired to give it a go having drooled for months over the dish over at Dinner Diary. It is clearly a favourite for Fred and Ginger!
I followed their advice and headed towards Delia for inspiration. I followed her recipe fairly closely so don't intend to repeat the recipe here. All that I will say is that I have since made this favourite flavoursome pasta dish three times.
The curious thing about pasta puttanesca is that when made well, it tastes almost meaty. Those anchovies permeate the dish giving a wonderful savoury edge that balances nicely with the sweetness of the tomatoes.
I have twice added finely chopped onions (finely chopped and sweated at the start along with garlic) and I also used fresh oregano once when I ran out of fresh basil. It was different, but still good!