DECEMBER 2019: A KITCHEN TOOLS PHD CLASS
CHEEKY CHICKPEA PUTTANESCA + CRAZY-DELICIOUS CRISPY POLENTA CAKES + AWESOME ITALIAN ICE
Knock-Knock! Who’s there? CAPER. Caper Who? It’s Batman, have you seen my caper?
Where did the Puttenesca sauce go? It was out on a wild caper
How Do You Say "Puttanesca”? pooht/tah/NEHSS/kah
This is a GREAT recipe to have in your arsenal amidst all of the rich sweet treats we love to eat this time of year. Why? It’s simple, fresh, and savory.
If there's one thing kids never tire of eating, it's pasta, and we go through loads of it. One of our favorites is puttanesca; a savory tomato sauce punctuated by olives and capers. Sugo alla puttanesca (puttanesca sauce) does not yet seem to be a household name in the U.S., however good it is. People are aware of it but don't prepare it. Many of you may have heard of Pasta Puttanesca through the fun movie Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. In the movie, the orphan kids make a batch of Pasta Puttanesca out of random things they find in the kitchen, including loose pieces of pasta that were floating around in an old, dirty, cluttered kitchen drawer. Do you remember that? It somehow it still looked totally delicious.
This Sticky Fingers Cooking kid focused Puttanesca was made in honor of my wonderful 18-year-old daughter, Ava, who also happens to be our family olive and caper lover (just like her mother). We omitted the anchovies at Ava's insistence and compensated by adding even more of the salty, briny flavor from the capers that makes a classic puttanesca sauce so irresistible – The sauce combines all the quintessential Mediterranean diet ingredients of salty, lip-smacking nuggets of olives and capers, with plenty of olive oil dissolved into the hearty, indefinably rich tomato foundation.... flavors that Ava and our whole family absolutely loves. It's a basic sauce but thick, hearty and flavorful enough to stand out at any meal. It's also versatile, the perfect topping for any pasta.... Or not. We decided to go with OR NOT this week and pair this awesome sauce with polenta cakes. Polenta is a on the menu a lot in our house because it's fast to make, the kids love its texture and there are so many different variations on it that we can make that range from savory to sweet. Although we usually like to pour the cooked polenta on to a cookie sheet and allow it to cool before the kids cut it into shapes. This quick and creamy side dish is perfect for a busy night when you need something delicious on the table in less than 10 minutes.
Jacqui and I also decided to make this dish it even hardier for our chilly fall weather and added the protein (oh-so-good-for-you) powerhouse, chickpea (garbanzo) beans. Perhaps the best part of the Puttanesca recipe is that it’s made entirely with pantry items, from the beans, to polenta to capers making this dish one of the tastiest, cheapest, healthiest nutrient dense and easiest dinners to make.
Want a little history?: My husband and I have had many wonderful trips to Italy together. We once spent a month near Naples where I first discovered true Sugo alla puttanesca in 1997. I was confounded when I was greeted with a round of chuckles by the waiter when I ordered it. Didn't I pronounce it correctly? Then I was told what it meant. Well - I will let you Google it yourself.... There are many colorful stories surrounding this dish. I choose to tell my kids the lesser known stories that attribute the name of the sauce to several people including an Italian architect, a painter and a cook and don’t forget Lemony Snicket! No one knows for SURE where the name came from, but we do know that it is delicious.
Have fun + Happy, healthy cooking! – Chef Erin (and Chef Jacqui)
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