Every time I open the freezer door I see the beautiful heirloom tomatoes that I smoked and then froze last year, just waiting for the perfect dish. Smoked tomatoes have an intense aroma and flavor, and I wanted to use these in a dish that would be bold enough to hold up to their unique flavor.
For all things Italian my first inclination is to go to Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s recipes, so I went back to one of her earlier cookbooks that focused on Italy’s Farmhouse Kitchens, The Italian Country Table. A recipe for a vibrant, spicy “streetwalkers pasta” sounded like a good starting place for something bold, except I did want a cooked dish for dinner rather than raw. No problem. Using Lynne Rosetto Kasper’s “Pasta Puttanesca Pugliese” as a starting point, it was easy to adapt it to my dinner needs.
Turned out wonderful! The intense smokiness of the tomatoes, the salty umami from anchovy fillets, black olives, and Romano cheese, and the bitter crunch of endive. Hard to go wrong with those ingredients. It did my smoked heirloom tomatoes proud.
Now, this summer the key is to use my new smoker of last year and smoke more! More smoked tomatoes, more smoked chipotle, and more smoked salt! Summer is around the corner…can you feel it?
Pasta Puttanesca with Smoked Tomatoes
(adapted from Lynne Rosotto Kasper’s, The Italian Country Table)
- 2 Tbsp oil, grapeseed or olive oil preferred
- 1 tightly packed Tbsp fresh basil leaves
- 1 tightly packed tsp each fresh marjoram and Italian parsley leaves
- 3-5 cloves garlic
- generous pinch of hot red pepper flakes
- 1 medium onion (about 1 cup)
- about 3 lbs smoked tomatoes, thawed if frozen
- 2 oil-packed anchovy fillets, rinsed & quartered
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted & coarsely chopped
- 1 tsp red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lb. pasta, I used penne, she suggested orecchiette pasta
- 1/2 cup Romano, Parmigiano Reggiano, or Pecorino cheese, grated
- 1/2 tightly packed cup curly endive leaves, coarsely chopped
- With a sharp knife, mince together the herbs, garlic, and hot pepper with the coarse salt and set aside.
- In a medium to large pot heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and saute until soft and lightly caramelized, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic-herb mix and cook an additional 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the remaining 5 ingredients through the pepper and simmer until the sauce is thickened and slightly reduced (about 15 minutes). This can simmer while the pasta is cooking.
- Cook the pasta in rapidly boiling water, stirring often, until there is no raw flour taste (about 7-10 minutes for penne). Drain into a colander
- Put the pasta pot back over medium heat. Spoon most of the sauce into the pot (you do not need to use all of the sauce, just cover the pasta with as much sauce as you like and stir). Cook a few minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed.
- Taste for seasoning, toss with a little chopped endive and grated cheese and serve. Place small bowls of extra sauce, extra endive, and extra cheese to pass around for individual tastes.
This was the first time I had heard of Puttanesca. Do you have a version that is similar? I see Mark Bittman includes a version in his How to Cook Everything book, but it does not include anchovies or bitter greens. I’d love to hear from you!