Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pasta Puttanesca - The "scandalous" dish

Pasta Puttanesca… A delicious dish with a scandalous origin. It’s said that ‘loose’ women in Naples would cook this fragrant concoction from easily accessible ingredients in order to draw sailors in. Regardless, it is an incredibly simple dish to make with an abundance of flavor.

The original recipe calls for capers, but a genetic aversion to certain foods starting with the letter ‘c’ (ie: capers, cilantro, coconut, cloves) made me leave out the little green devils. I’ve also taken the time to make my own pasta. It always brings back memories with my sister growing up; stringing clothes hangers and clothes hangers full of fresh pasta. Once you get a knack for it, it really isn’t too bad of a process.

The focaccia bread was a new trial. I’ve been having a tough time getting my bread to rise recently, so I thought, ‘fine, I’ll just embrace the flat bread and go with that for awhile.’ Thankfully I found a lot of use for the loaf; I’ll post what the remainder turned into later.

Pasta Puttanesca
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 chicken breasts
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 to 6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 small onion, sliced thinly
3-4 anchovy fillets
10-12 Kalamata Olives, pitted and halved
1 (14.5-ounce) can stewed tomatoes, drained and slightly pureed
1/2 cup cream or milk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp Rosemary
1/2 cup Feta cheese
1 pound spaghetti, cooked to al dente

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add oil and crushed pepper. Cook chicken breasts till done. Remove from heat and let cool slightly, cut into bite sized cubes. Add garlic, anchovies, and onions to previous pan. Sauté sauce until anchovies melt into oil and completely dissolve and onion is tender, about 3 minutes. Add chicken, olives, tomatoes, cream, and rosemary. Bring sauce to a slow bubble, reduce heat, and simmer 8 to 10 minutes.

Add cooked fettucini pasta to the sauce with 1/4 cup of the Feta. Let cheese melt and pasta absorb some of the flavor. Serve with bread and more feta cheese.

Homemade Pasta
2 eggs
3 1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
Knead all ingredients together on a flour dusted surface for 5 minutes until they form a ball which is not sticky. Wrap in plastic and let sit in refrigerator for another 1/2 hr. Using a pasta attachment or other tool roll out to 1/4 of an inch thickness on a floured surface. Cut into long strips or use fettuccini attachment. Let dry on a rack for 1/2 hr.
Bring a large pot of water with salt to a boil. Add pasta and stir, let boil for about 1-2 minutes or until pasta floats. Strain.

* A fury little kitchen helper is not required to gaurd the pasta.

Caramelized Onion Foccacia
6 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon fine salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup wheat flour
1/4 cup rosemary, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the onions: In a large skillet, over medium heat, add 2 tbsp of oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté until caramelized and brown, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and let cool.

For the dough: Using large bowl, mix the yeast, sugar and warm water together. Let sit until the yeast has risen. Add 2 tbsp of the olive oil, salt and flour. Mix dough until it starts to form and come together. Oil the bowl with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn once, covering with the oil. Cover the bowl with towl and place in a warm, draft free place until the dough doubles in size about 1/2 - 1 hour. Spray grease a 9x9 inch baking pan. Punch the dough down and press the dough out into the pan, using a small wooden spoon handle (or your finger) push small depressions into the dough.
Brush the dough with remaining 1 tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle the dough with kosher salt and black pepper. Spread onions over the bread evenly. Sprinkle with the rosemary. Bake the dough for 30 to 35 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
Let cool on a rack. Slice and serve.

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