Have you ever wondered about the history of your favourite dishes and what kind of stories they might have behind them. I do. ALL THE TIME. I’m insanely curious to know and learn whatever I can about the things we eat, from their history to the processes involved in making them. Literally, I want to know EVERYTHING (although, sometimes that backfires).
When I looked into the background of puttanesca, it immediately became clear that it would be impossible to write a post without mentioning it’s spicy origins. There are a few varying accounts of how the sauce came to be named and why, but they all start with the direct translation “in the style of the whore”. Said to have come about in the mid-20th century in Naples, the first tale is that the aroma was used by to lure men from the street into local brothels. The other stories also centre around brothels, from minimizing the interruptions, to feeding the guests while they waited. But, they also all centre on the idea that puttanesca, though spicy and aromatic, is also quick and easy to make.
History aside, puttanesca is one delicious sauce that you really should have in your back pocket. Because as easy as it is to make, with a couple little flourishes (like halibut and grilled lemon), this makes one heck of a dish for company, too. And with the background it has, you already have a pretty spicy conversation starter.
2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
5 anchovies, finely chopped
4 – 5 roma tomatoes, diced (about 2 cups)
1 pinch of chili flakes
2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 Cup olives, chopped
1/4 Cup capers
2 tbsp fresh parsley
4 halibut fillets
Preheat the grill to about 400 degrees Farenheit
Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and cook the pasta according to package directions.
Place the olive oil, garlic and anchovies in a large skillet and slowly heat over low-medium heat. Once the garlic is starting to soften, add the tomatoes, chili flakes and oregano. Bring to a simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes. Add in the olives and capers and continue to simmer over low heat until the spaghetti and halibut are ready.
While the sauce and pasta are cooking, brush the halibut fillets with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on the preheated grill and cook for about 12 minutes, turning once halfway through the cooking time.
Cut the lemons in half. Brush the cut side with olive oil and season with salt. Place cut side down on the grill for about 3 – 4 minutes until slightly caramelized.
To serve: Squeeze the juice of 2 lemon halves and the parsley into the sauce and stir. Toss the spaghetti with the sauce and serve alongside the halibut and remaining lemons.