Chunky Puttanesca – a fresh twist on a classic Italian sauce. Fennel, garlic, onions, anchovy, olives, capers and mushrooms load this tomato sauce with flavor. Delicious , quick and easy – you’ll have it on the table in half an hour. Not familiar with Puttanesca? You’re in for a real treat!
This sauce has an unbelievable amount of flavor. There is so much bold and bright flavor – layer after layer of it – in each bite. There is so much going on, yet it all blends beautifully.
The origins of this dish are interesting. It is said that puttanesca was the sauce of the puttana, or a “lady of the night”. There are different stories on why it was this “working woman’s” sauce of choice. Some say the enticing smell of the simmering sauce would lure potential customers in. Others say the ladies were so busy and needed a quick and delicious sauce ready to go to keep themselves and waiting customers fed.
I’m betting it was a combination of all those reasons.
So I call this Chunky Puttanesca. Hehehe. Besides trying to be cute & clever, there is a reason. It’s Spring and it’s time to brighten everything up a bit. This classic dish is absolutely perfect itself – but it’s a whole new level of deliciousness with some onions, fennel and mushrooms thrown in the mix. Good thing no “John’s” were wandering about the country roads today in my neck of the woods – they would have smelled this sauce simmering from miles away! Lol – I make myself laugh.
As for the anchovies. Like em’, love em’, can’t stand em’ – it doesn’t matter so much here. There is no distinct taste of anchovy in this sauce. The anchovy blends to create another magical dimension of this surprisingly simple sauce.
True story. I remember as a kid going out to a restaurant and ordering spaghetti with red sauce. I asked the waitress if there was any fish in the sauce. She said she didn’t know and looked at me like I was absolutely insane. I replied that I would have the spaghetti if there was no fish in the sauce. LOL. Why would a kid ask such a thing? In America, you don’t find sauces laden with anchovy or sardines that often. You sure do when you’re abroad. Anyhow, I’m guessing we just got home from visiting family in Europe and somewhere I had stumbled upon some super fishy sauce. Rest assured, this isn’t one of them.
I appreciate the days where I have time to make a sauce from scratch. Nothing beats starting a sauce with fresh, local tomatoes and homegrown herbs. The aroma of it simmering low and slow for hours is heavenly. (Someone should make a scented candle of that!) Everyday is not so perfectly simple, though. I still get the homemade flavor I want and speed things up using a jarred sauce loaded with authentic Tuscan flavor. I’m in absolute love with Bertolli Riserva Marinara sauce – I literally could have eaten it with a spoon straight from the jar. Although I dressed this sauce up – it would be absolutely wonderful served “just as” with pasta and some freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano.
I do hope you enjoy this Spaghetti “Chunky” Puttanesca! It’s a wonderful authentic Italian dish that’s so quick & simple to make! Thanks so much for stopping by 🙂
Suddenly hungry for Italian? Of course you are. Need more Italian recipes? Yes, yes, yes! Visit Bertolli for TONS more recipe inspiration.
- 3-4 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 fennel bulb, cored & diced
- 4 oz mushrooms (your favorite), chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 jar of Bertolli Reserva Marinara Sauce (23.9 oz)
- ¼ - ¾ teaspoon crushed dried red pepper (to taste)
- ⅓ cup pitted sliced black or kalamata olives (i use both)
- 2 teaspoon capers
- pinch of oregano
- pinch of black pepper
- 1 (2 oz) can anchovies, drained & chopped
- salt to taste
- fresh parsley, snipped
- freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano
- *1/2 pound - 1 pound cooked spaghetti
- (use a half pound if you like your pasta very saucy - a pound if you prefer a light coating of sauce)
- Heat olive oil In a dutch oven or large skillet.
- Add onion and fennel saute until translucent and tender - about 10 minutes.
- Add mushrooms, saute for a few minutes.
- Add garlic, saute for a minute.
- Add sauce, red pepper, olives, capers, oregano, black pepper and anchovies.
- Bring to bubbly boil, reduce heat to low and cook covered for about 15 minutes.
- Add cooked spaghetti & a bit (approx ¼ cup) of pasta water to sauce and toss.
- Salt to taste. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and loads of freshly grated cheese. Enjoy!