Fifteen years ago this week, my sweetie came over for dinner. We had met four months before, seen each other a few times, but hadn’t clicked. I called and invited him for dinner. He asked what he could bring. I told him a can of sliced black olives, the only ingredient I was missing for this recipe. I can still remember him walking in my apartment door carrying a small arrangement of flowers, and pulling the can of olives out of his pocket with a smile.
I had wanted to make something easy, so I paged through one of my favorite little cookbooks, The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces, and found this recipe. It includes a great story about the origin of the recipe: spaghetti alla puttanesca translates to “Whore’s Spaghetti.” Italian brothels were state-owned in the 1950s, and the civil servants were only allowed to shop one day per week. So the ladies became experts at making quick dinners from what was easily found in the pantry: canned sardines, tinned tomatoes, capers, olives, and olive oil.
I made the pasta, he pronounced it delicious, jumped up and did the dishes, offered to let me drive his new car, and invited me to a Rolling Stones concert. And that was that.
Happy anniversary, sweetheart.
The renovation: I’ve used gluten-free brown rice spaghetti, and added nori (seaweed) to provide that briny taste in place of the anchovies. Recipe adapted from The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces by Diane Seed.
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This is one of my favorite little cookbooks; so glad that it’s still in print!