Penne Puttanesca
  • 8oz Penne or other short noodle like Fusilli
  • 2 ½ quarts/Liters water
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt (18g)
  • 3 tablespoons semolina flour (that’s the same flour that dry pasta is made from)
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, very thinly sliced
  • ½ 14oz/397ml can of whole tomatoes in juice, preferably Italian, ideally San Marzano tomatoes
  • 50g/ ¼ cup black olives, pitted and thinly sliced. Preferably Gaeta, but others will do in a pinch
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • A generous pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional garnish of chopped fresh parsley or basil
  1. Bring a pot with the water to a boil over high heat. Add the salt and let it dissolve, and then sprinkle in the semolina flour. The water will turn cloudy and may foam a bit. Add the noodles. Stir a few times as the water comes back to a boil to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cook until they are 80% done, about 2-3 minutes less than the time indicated on the box. Drain the pasta, reserving at least 1 cup of water from the pot, but preferably 2 cups. It’s always better to have more than you need than to be left short.
  2. While the noodles are cooking, make the sauce. In a medium sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-low heat until hot. Add the sliced garlic and cook slowly until it has browned lightly, about 3 minutes.
  3. Crush the tomatoes with your hands and add them and their juices to the pan, simmer about 4 minutes until they have broken down a bit. You’ve just made a very basic marinara sauce.
  4. Stir in the olives, capers and red pepper flakes. Simmer another 2 minutes.
  5. Add the drained noodles and about ½ cup of the reserved cooking water. Simmer the noodles until they have absorbed the water in the pan and are cooked. You may need to add more water if the pan dries out too quickly. You’ll notice that the sauce actually becomes quite creamy and the flavours get a little more intense. This is because the starch in the water emulsifies the now really flavourful olive oil and helps it attach itself to every noodle. Once the penne is cooked fully and the sauce has thickened, check it for seasoning. The ingredients are fairly salt, so you may not need any more salt. Turn it out into a bowl.
Recipe by Two Happy Rabbits at