Penne Puttanesca

When I'm in a real rush this is my go-to dinner.

Sure, it's pasta … not THE healthiest thing ever but it sure beats Pizza Hut! We probably have this about six times a year so really not too concerned about the carb overload! I love making this dinner because it is ready in less than 15 minutes. I have a really strange obsession with capers. I ALWAYS have to have them in the fridge. I freak out if we have less than two containers, I just love them in everything. Matt thinks my caper OCD is pretty hilarious and often teases me in the grocery store when I always buy more. They add great flavour to chicken, they're cheap and never go bad! Plus they are naturally salty tasting so you don't really need to add a lot of salt when you use them. Love them.

The secret to this recipe is all about the sauce. Flavouring basic tomato puree is a sauce game changer. And it will make your house smell like you're in an amazing Italian restaurant. Your family will come running.

Adapted from "My Father's Daughter" by Gwyneth Paltrow

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound (3/4 box) penne
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Pinch red chile flakes
  • 3 heaping tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup pitted niçoise olives
  • 2 cups Basic Tomato Sauce 
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
  • A few tablespoons pasta water, to thin

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt generously. Drop in the penne. Cook according to package directions.

Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat and add the garlic and chile flakes. Cook for about 1 minute, adjusting the heat if necessary to avoid burning the garlic. Add the capers and olives, crushing them gently with the back of a wooden spoon, and cook for 1 minute, or until quite fragrant—it should smell amazing! 

Stir in the tomato sauce and black pepper. Turn the heat to high, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium and let it bubble for about 10 minutes, or until quite thickened. The penne should be perfectly cooked at this point. Drain pasta, reserving a few tablespoons of pasta cooking water. Add pasta to the skillet with the sauce and stir to coat, adding a bit of the pasta cooking water if necessary to get the sauce to the right consistency. It shouldn't be too thick, but also not too soupy. Scatter the parsley over the pasta, add a bit more fresh black pepper, and serve.

Active & total preparation time: 15 minutes

You can make the sauce ahead of time.

Bonus: It's vegan! If you're into that.