November 15th, 2007

Quinoa Puttanesca

The first time I had pasta puttanesca I was waitressing at a restaurant in Park Slope. A fellow waitress told me that it was the pasta that Italian whores ate. She was always saying things like, “I spilled ketchup all over my tits,” and pronouncing “mimosa” in a really suggestive way. I just figured she was telling me that so she could say the word “whore” while slurping down linguine, but it is actually true, pasta putanesca is the pasta of whores. And I can see why.

If you’re anything like me you always have a gigantic thing of capers and olives in your fridge (not to mention great bone structure and an impressive unicorn collection.) Puttanesca is a really quick way to put together a complex tasting – passionate even – dish with pantry staples. Succulent, salty and a little spicy, the ingredients and method are simple enough that you can prep it, cook it and clean up after yourself in a leisurely 30 minutes, and then get back to the matter at hand, whether that be sex with strangers for money or updating your blog.

I’m always on the look out for ways to incorporate quinoa and other grains into my lunches, so it’s pretty brainless to just make a traditional pasta sauce and toss it on a grain instead. I like to make a big batch of quinoa at the beginning of the week and store it for a few days. If you don’t have a few cups of cooked quinoa around then see directions below* and start your quinoa before starting your sauce.

Quinoa Puttanesca – The Quinoa of Whores

Serves 4

2 to 3 cups cooked quinoa

For the sauce:

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

generous pinch each tarragon and marjoram

1/4 cup white wine

1/2 cup kalamata olives, roughly chopped (sliced in half is great)

1/2 cup capers

20 ounce can crushed tomatoes

fresh black pepper

Preheat a sauce pot over medium heat. Add the oil and garlic and stir for about a minute, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add herbs, spices and wine; cook for about a minute.

Add olives, capers and tomatoes. Cook for about 15 minutes. You can serve either by scooping quinoa into individual bowls and pouring the sauce over it, but my way is to just mix everything into a bowl together and reserve a little sauce to pour over my serving, because I like it extra whore-y. There is no rosemary in the recipe, but my food porn was looking a little naked so I garnished it with some.

For some reason, Jason Das named all the capers in the photo on my FlickR, so if that thought entertains you then you can go check that out.

*Mix one cup dry quinoa with 2 cups water, bring to a boil then lower heat and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until grain is tender and water has been absorbed.

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