Something had to go.
The fridge was overflowing with stuff - bottles, jars, tubes, packets, containers. Jams, mustards, dressings, sauces - this was condiment heaven. But when so much space is filled with 'things to go with stuff', there stops being enough space for the 'stuff'. Something had to go. I needed to make some space. Full jars, (nearly) empty jars, big jars, tiny jars - they needed to be used or consolidated. So, the challenge for the week was set - use up some of the accompaniments to make space for the real food.
A variety of olives; five types of mustards; half a tube of tomato puree; several jars of jam (all on the red spectrum); a random jar of ginger preserve left over from a roasted ham at Christmas; a few anchovies in olive oil; a couple of jars of capers; some Sauerkraut (come to think of it, that had seen better days); pesto - green and red - and the list goes on.
The olives, tomato puree, anchovies and capers caught my eye and lead me to Pasta Puttanesca - a perfect, easy dinner and a big hitter in terms of clearing out a big chunk of space in the fridge.
For me this is the King of robust, hearty and bold pasta sauces - it's meaty without containing any meat and has enough of a kick to give it some personality without being fiery. Beware of poor imitations ...... too many tomatoes and not enough of anything else - you have been warned!
My starting point for this dish is from Delia's Summer Collection. I've tweaked the method slightly to make it a little less fuss, but to be honest it remains largely true to the original. When it ain't broke, why fix it? The recipe scales up beautifully, reheats without any issue and freezes perfectly. And don't be too precious about the exact quantities - especially if you are using up bits and bobs of ingredients. I've also been known to use chopped, tinned tomatoes rather than fresh - no drama.
And have we ended up with more space in the fridge? I think yes. I've cleared the olive and caper mountain. The Sauerkraut has gone to Sauerkraut heaven and the selection of red jams got combined to make an Arctic Roll (remember those Bird's Eye ones from the eighties?!). The five types of mustard will always have to stay and maybe the ginger preserve will see us through to next Christmas .....
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 x 50g jars of anchovies in oil – chop the anchovies with scissors and reserve the oil
- 350g pitted black olives, chopped
- 2 large, red chillis, deseeded and chopped
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 900g tomatoes, chopped
- 2 heaped tablespoons tomato purée
- 1 bunch fresh basil – save a few leaves for garnish and chop the rest of the leaves
- salt and pepper
- Parmesan cheese, to garnish
- Add all the ingredients, including the oil from the anchovies, to a medium saucepan. Season with pepper but no salt at this stage.
- Combine everything thoroughly and then let the sauce simmer on the hob very gently without a lid for 40 minutes. By this time it will have reduced to a lovely thick mass, with very little liquid left.
- Serve with your favourite pasta and sprinkled with shavings of Parmesan and the reserved basil leaves.