April 8, 2010


Since my return from 'across the pond' to visit my Italian friend, I've had pasta on the brain and in my veins (probably literally). I felt like eating something spicy today and had some sugo alla puttanesca (whore's sauce) in the pantry. There are several stories as to how the sauce got its name and various restaurateurs who claim to be the first to make it. No one really knows, but everyone knows it's delicious! In any case, it seems to have first appeared in the 1950's. My favorite story concerns the state-owned Italian brothels in the 50's. The brothels were called case chiuse, or "closed houses" because the shutters always had to be closed, to avoid offending the neighbors and passers-by. The 'civil servants' of the brothels were only allowed only one day a week to do their shopping. I suppose because their clothing, or lack thereof, would also offend? When ingredients ran short, this sauce was made from what could be found in the kitchen. Lucky for me, I didn't need to make my own today, or I'd have had to change my outfit to something more ... harlot-y.

1 lb. penne rigate pasta
1 25 oz. jar puttanesca sauce (I used Trader Joe's brand)
1 lb. hot Italian sausage
Extra virgin olive oil, about 1/3 c. total
8 large crimini mushrooms, quartered
1/2 of a large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 c. dry white wine
1/2 t. black pepper, freshly ground
1/4 t. red chile flakes
3 c. grated parmiggiano reggiano (the real stuff!)
6 slices provolone cheese

Heat oven to 400 F. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add 1 T. salt, then pour in penne. Cook until still quite al dente, then drain and pour back into the pot. Add the puttanesca sauce and stir to combine. In a large skillet, heat 3 T. or so of olive oil over medium high heat. Add mushrooms, sauteeing until browned. Pour in 1/2 cup of the wine and cook one minute longer. Add mushrooms to pot. In same skillet, in 2 T. olive oil, saute the onions and garlic with the pepper and red chile flakes until onions are just beginning to brown. Add them to the pot. Again in same skillet, brown the sausage, breaking up into pieces, but not too much. Add rest of wine and simmer until reduced by half. Add sausage to the pot. Gently combine all the ingredients in the pot. Pour half of the pasta mixture into a 9 x 13 baking pan. Sprinkle pasta with half of the parmiggiano. Cover with the rest of the pasta, then the rest of the parmiggiano, then lay the cheese slices on top. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven until cheese is browning. Let stand a few minutes before serving.
Serves 8

1 comment:

georgios l said...

great blog and receipes as always!i will check it often!


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