In case you don't know, my BIG DREAM is to have my own cooking show that inspires people to explore new flavors and become creative and confident in the kitchen. Being a chef on If I Can Dream is obviously a killer opportunity for me and I am incredibly grateful. Earlier in the week, I asked the cast if they had any requests and Giglianne (Gig) wanted to make Pasta Puttanesca. This is a dish from Southern Italy that is simple and inexpensive to make but delicious with olives, garlic, capers, tomato sauce, and anchovies. I left those out to make it vegetarian for Gig. I also used whole wheat penne pasta to kick up the nutritional value and added some cumin and turmeric. And, since there are two strapping young men at the iicd house, I also made some scrumptious turkey meatballs to go on top. Alriiiiiiight already, enough babble and on to the recipe!
Gig's Pasta Puttanesca
1 box dried, whole wheat spaghetti or fettuccine
2 tablespoons salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil + 3 tablespoons for pasta water
1 large head garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
1 (28-oz) can whole tomatoes in juice, drained and chopped
1 (28-oz) can or jar of your favorite Marinara sauce
2 tablespoons brine from olives
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
1/3 cup capers, drained
1 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
1/2 teaspoon cumin (optional)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoon white sugar or agave
1 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1. Fill large pot 3/4 full with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add 2 Tbsp salt and 3 Tbsp oil to water. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 20-25 minutes for whole wheat spaghetti. (Al dente refers to the texture of cooked pasta in Italian cooking. It literally means "to the tooth". When the pasta is cooked al dente, there should be a slight resistance in the center when the pasta is chewed. If you prefer softer pasta, cook a few minutes longer.)
2. While pasta boils, add 1/2 cup olive oil to heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes.
3. Add chopped tomatoes and marinara sauce to garlic oil mixture along with olive brine, olives, capers, balsamic vinegar, turmeric, cumin, and sugar, stirring occasionally until pasta is done.
4. Drain pasta and return to pot. Add sauce to pasta and simmer on medium-low heat, twirling pasta with tongs, for about 2 minutes. Plate immediately and sprinkle with basil and Parmesan. Take a bite and RELISH THE MOMENT:)