Easy Pasta Puttanesca with Chipotle Tomato Butter

 pasta puttanesca

photo credit: Youjeen Cho (Unsplash)

One of my favorite pasta dishes I ever I had was from Trattoria La Siciliana in Berkeley CA circa 2002. I had never tried a pasta puttanesca before and once I had the first bite I was done for. They used angel hair pasta which was totally uncharted territory as well. I've been on a quest to recreate it ever since. And lo and behold the NYT Cooking section featured a delicious base for which I could experiment this past weekend. I omitted the sardines and anchovies and subbed in fresh ahi tuna. I also added artichoke hearts and scant bit of parmesan at the end. And instead of fresh tomatoes and garlic I used my favorite tomato and garlic confit with thyme.

But...be forewarned, in addition to the pasta puttanesca recipe in the NYT Cooking pages were many other Meditteranean style dishes that I'm salavating over. Think cherry tomatoes and white bean salad with rosemary, avocado toast with poached eggs, and edamame pesto pasta. Stay tuned to see what turns up on the Fireworks blog!
Easy Pasta Puttanesca with Chipotle Tomato Butter
  • Tuna steaks (3 6-8 oz)
  • 1 pound long pasta like spaghetti or linguine or angel hair if you dare
  • 2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes (for the confit)
  • 1 cup Olive oil (for the confit) + 1 tbs (for baking the tuna)
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 6 garlic cloves  (for the confit)
  • 1 tsp ea dried parsley, dried oregano, dried basil, paprika, sea salt   (for the tuna)
  • 1/2 cup canned artichoke hearts in water, sliced in quarters
  • small handful fresh parsley
  • scant teaspoon red pepper flakes (more If you like It spicy)
  • Water for boiling pasta salt for the pot of water
  • 3/4 cup pitted black olives, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup drained capers
  • 1 Fireworks Chipotle Tomato Butter burst
  • Step 1 Make the tomato and garlic confit: Heat oven to 300. Using a sheet pan or other high sided baking sheet, pour 1 cup olive oil into the pan, put dry tomatoes and garlic cloves in it, a few sprigs of thyme and a pinch of salt. Bake for about 30 mins until tomatoes are blistered and garlic is soft but not burnt. Set aside when done.
    • Step 2 Make and bake the tuna steaks: heat oven to 400. Using a medium wide bowl,  mix 1 tsp dried oregano, basil and parsley and paprika with ½ teaspoon fine sea salt. Dip the 1 inch sides of each steak into the spice mixture and season both sides of flesh with salt and pepper. Oil a separate sheet pan, using 1 tbs olive oil. Add the seasoned tuna steaks and bake for 30 or so minutes. The juices should run clear when the fish is cooked through. Let cool. 
    • Step 3 Bring a large pot of water to a boil and about 2 tsp salt. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked according to al dente package directions. Drain pasta, reserving 1-2 cups of the cooking liquid. While pasta is cooking, warm your pasta serving bowl.
    • Step 4 Also while pasta cooks, chop olives, slice artichoke hearts, chop fresh parsley and drain capers. Slice the tuna steaks into ¼” x 1” chunks.
    • Step 5  Add the tomatoes garlic confit to the big pot, trying to strain out the oil. Start with adding 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta cooking liquid and increase heat to medium low. Add olives, artichoke hearts, capers, tuna and butter. Stir until the butter melts. Add the pasta back to the pot. Mix well with two large wooden spoons until the sauce coats the noodles and the pasta has cooked to your desired final texture, adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, about 2 minutes.
    • Step 6 Add the pasta puttanesca to your warmed serving bowl and serve right away with fresh parsley and fresh grated parmesan on top of each serving.

    TIP:  Steps 1 and 2 can be done ahead of time to save time. If doing ahead, after cooling, wrap in air tight food storage and keep refrigerated until ready to use. Pull from the fridge 30 minutes before to let it get to room temp.