Pasta puttanesca translates as whore’s pasta, allegedly because it was hastily thrown together by Sicilian hookers between clients. But what it always designates is a spicy tomato sauce with lots of salty, umamigiving ingredients. It usually includes anchovies, but I’m using fish sauce here because it’s one of my invaluable pantry items, always on hand. Add red pepper flakes, kalamata olives, capers, and eggs to make a fabulous pasta dish—and you’ll have some sauce left over for other uses. This dish is usually served on a thick piece of crusty toasted bread, but here I’m pairing it with pasta instead.
You can puree canned tomatoes in a blender, or just stick an immersion blender right in the can, but you should first pour off some of the tomato juice into the pan with the onions or you’ll have a mess—trust me.
1 Spanish onion, cut into small dice
4 garlic cloves, smashed with the flat side of a knife and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup/240 milliliters dry red wine
1 (28-ounce/794-gram) can whole peeled tomatoes, pureed, or 10 fresh Roma tomatoes, broiled for 15 minutes and pureed
1 bay leaf or 2 teaspoons dried oregano (or both)
½ tablespoon fish sauce or 4 anchovies, roughly chopped
½ cup/90 grams pitted, chopped kalamata olives
2 tablespoons capers
1 pound/450 grams angel hair pasta or thin spaghetti, cooked al dente and tossed with extra-virgin olive oil or butter, kept warm in a covered pot
In a large sauté pan or skillet over medium-high heat, sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil, adding the salt as you do. Stir until the onion and garlic are tender and translucent, then add the red pepper flakes and stir to cook them and coat them with the oil.
Add the wine and bring it to a simmer. Add the pureed tomatoes, the bay leaf and/or oregano, and bring it back to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook the sauce till it’s nice and thick, about 1 hour. The sauce can be prepared in advance up to this point, allowed to cool, and stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Remove and discard the bay leaf and add the fish sauce (or anchovies), olives, and capers. If the sauce was refrigerated, bring it to a full simmer over medium heat, then turn the heat to low. Lower each egg into the sauce with a ladle, making a small well in the sauce with the ladle to contain it. Cover the pan and cook the eggs until the whites are set, 3 to 6 minutes.
Divide the warm pasta among four serving dishes. Spoon the sauce over the pasta, topping each portion with an egg and finishing each dish with more sauce as needed. Serve immediately.
Recipe reprinted from EGG Copyright 2014 by Michael Ruhlman. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or printed without permission in writing from the publisher. Reprinted by arrangement with Little, Brown and Company