Puttanesca sauce has been on my list of things to make for a while now. A rich tomato sauce with olives and capers, this is one of my favourite toppings for pasta, and it's really quick and simple to make. The traditional recipe has anchovies, but obviously, as a vegetarian I just leave those out.
My mum used to make this regularly, but for some reason it had fallen out of my usual repertoire, and I wanted it back on the table (literally). Also, I've recently discovered that Andy might just maybe consider eating olives if they're cooked, since the flavour mellows out - so it seemed like a good time to push this dish a little higher up the list of my cooking priorities.
Then I was offered the chance to review an international food parcel from Kitchen Nomad, which happened to have a Greek theme, including (you guessed it) olives and capers. And tomato sauce. And olive oil. The sauce almost made itself, even as I read the list.
Edit: I'm disappointed to report that Kitchen Nomad is no longer operational (2014).
The box had a reassuring weight to it, and came packed with full-sized products, many of which (I was pleased to see) were labeled primarily in Greek. Only the tiny plastic tub of dukkah spice mix, the base of which had been bashed seriously out of shape by all the glass jars in the box, felt like it was letting the side down in terms of presentation.
There were five recipe cards included in my box, including one for dessert. I enquired about veggie-friendliness, and was pleased to hear that the contents of the box were entirely vegetarian, though the recipes aren't. There are "suggestions" for making each recipe vegetarian, but since the suggestion for Prawns with Feta is to simply leave out the prawns, I'm not really confident that this would be the best route to a good and balanced meal. Personally, I'm confident inventing and adapting my own recipes, so this doesn't trouble me much; to me, the quality of the ingredients is the critical thing. However, I thought it was worth mentioning for anyone who would prefer to make use of the full package of ingredients plus recipes.
On to the ingredients, then. For the puttanesca sauce, I used the kalamata olives, capers, tomato sauce, and olive oil.
The olives were, seriously, amongst the best I've ever tasted. Kalamata olives are always one of my favourite kinds, but if I learnt one thing from my visit to Greece, it's that they can be of very variable quality. These were rich and dark, and soft enough that I could easily peel the olives away from their stones by hand. The tomato sauce was also wonderful and light, tasting just like fresh crushed tomatoes, and the olive oil had a good peppery flavour. I'm less picky about capers, if I'm honest.
I haven't yet sampled the other ingredients from the box, but I'm looking forwards to making some dolmades with the vine leaves, and orzo is an ingredient I've often considered but never yet used. And I'll certainly be keeping an eye on future Kitchen Nomad boxes to see which other countries and ingredients they cover.
Vegetarian Puttanesca Sauce Recipe
3tbsp olive oil
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
330g tomato sauce
20 large kalamata olives
- Chop the onion and crush the garlic.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan, and fry the onion and garlic until soft.
- Add the tomato sauce, olives, and capers, and simmer for 15-20 minutes to infuse the flavours.
- Serve over pasta (I used penne giganti).
This quantity of sauce is about 300 calories per person. Served with 75g of pasta per person, that's a hearty meal for 420 calories.