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Spaghetti with Capers, Olives, Tomatoes and Hot Peppers

  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 flat anchovy fillets cured in salt, or in olive oil, drained and minced
  • 3 plump fresh garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red peppers (hot red pepper flakes), or to taste
  • Sea salt
  • 28-oz (765-g) can peeled Italian plum tomatoes in juice or 28-oz
  • (765-g) can crushed tomatoes in puree
  • 15 salt-cured black olives, like Italian Gaeta or French Nyons olives, halved
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pound (500 g) dried Italian spaghetti
  • Large handful fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, snipped with scissors

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca. In an unheated frying pan large enough to hold the pasta later on, combine the oil, anchovies, garlic, crushed red peppers and a pinch of salt, stirring to coat with the oil. Cook over moderate heat just until the garlic turns golden but does not brown, 2 to 3 minutes. If using whole canned tomatoes, place a food mill over the pan and puree the tomatoes directly into it. Crushed tomatoes can be added directly from the can. Add the olives and capers. Stir to blend and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce begins to thicken, about 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring 10 1/2 pints (6 l) of water to a rolling boil. Add 3 tablespoons salt and the spaghetti, stirring to prevent the pasta from sticking. Cook until tender but firm to the bite. Drain thoroughly. Add the drained pasta to the frying pan with the tomato sauce. Toss, cover, and let rest over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes to allow the pasta to absorb the sauce. Add the parsley and toss again. Serve immediately in warmed shallow soup bowls. (Traditionally, cheese is not served with this dish.) Yield: 6 servings

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