An older gentleman came into the Saucy Pasta, one rainy day. He nodded and slowly began to peruse the pasta and sauce selections, with his hands clutched behind his back. As he carefully inspected our sauces and turned to me with a smile and said, “Ah, Puttanesca,” in a thick Italian accent. “Do you know what that means?” he asked, with a saucy smile. “Let me tell you a story”, he continued. “When I was a little boy in Naples, I remember the REAL Puttanesca sauce. It means prostitute, you know. During the war in Italy, some women were forced to make money to survive, any way they could. Italians love two things – Amore and Food. These women were competing for the attention of the lonely soldiers that would come into Naples, a busy port. To further entice these men, also missing a home-cooked meal, the women began to cook the homemade sauce and offer a meal with their services. The women would cook their ‘Puttanesca’ sauce and leave their front doors open, hoping the smell of their delicious sauce would entice a caller” he regaled.

The easily available ingredients in WW II Naples included black olives, capers, and anchovies – the primary ingredients in today’s version of the sauce. The gentleman conveyed that, as a small, hungry boy, these ladies often called him over to offer him a small plate of pasta. He holds onto those memories fondly. He left with a complimentary Puttanesca sauce and some pasta.

You can try the authentic version at Saucy Pasta or make your own.

• 13-14 oz spaghetti or your favourite noodle 360-400 g (1 pkg Saucy Pasta)

• 17.5 oz fresh or canned tomatoes 500 g

• 2 anchovies

• 5 tablespoons pitted black olives

• 1 garlic clove

• 1 tablespoon salted capers

• 1 red chili

• 2 tablespoons fresh parsley finely chopped

• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

If you are using fresh tomatoes, bring a medium pot of water to boil, add tomatoes, boil them for less than a minute, and drain. Rinse them under cold water and peel them immediately. Finally, place them in a bowl and mash them with a fork, or a potato masher.

Peel and crush the garlic clove. Cut the chili in two and remove the seeds – if you don’t want the dish to be too spicy.

Bring salted pasta water to a boil. About six cups of water and 1.5 teaspoons of salt.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, brown the garlic and the chili for about five minutes, and remove them.

Add the anchovies and mash them with the back of a wooden spoon.

Now add olives and sauté for a few seconds.

Finally, add tomatoes and capers, mix and simmer, medium/low heat, 5-10 minutes, until liquids almost halve.

Meanwhile, cook pasta, drain it, and add it to the skillet.

Mix, and sprinkle with parsley.

Serve hot.


Two locations to serve you:
CRANBERRY MEWS   |   10 Keith Ave. Unit 205, Collingwood
(705) 29-FOODO (293-6636)

DOWNTOWN THORNBURY   |   47A Bruce St. S., Thornbury
(705) 60-PASTA (6072782)