Ready, steady, spaghetti: Puttanesca pronto

Every Saturday I sit down to the task of writing out the weekly grocery shopping list. It starts off easily with the staples: bread, milk, fruit, white truffles …

But then comes the tricky part: what to eat for dinner for the next seven days. Sometimes inspiration hits and I easily come up with seven tasty, nutritionally balanced dishes with a combination of ingredients that’s both affordable and at least slightly adventurous. And that yields just the right amount of left-overs to pop into a plastic container for tomorrow’s lunch.

Other times I enter into a flight of fancy that Waz might have some ideas for the week’s dinners: “Waz, can you suggest something for dinner this week?” Typical reply: “Twice smoked duck’s liver on a bed of wilted sea kale with smoked maple dressing.” Or, alternatively: “Fish.”

Yeah, thanks Waz.

So I usually end up flipping through our surprisingly meagre supply of recipe books searching for ideas.

Other times I get to the end of the list and couldn’t be shagged with more page-flipping and I fall back on one of my staples. You know what I’m talking about. You all have them: those dishes that you know how to make with one arm tied behind your back, no peeking at the recipe book necessary. Things like spag bol (spaghetti bolognese for you non-Aussies out there), beef and veg stir fry, roast chook.

Then sometimes you strike gold: the NEW staple to add to your repertoire. You come across a recipe that’s easy and delicious and keeps creeping back onto the weekly shopping list until, before you know it, you’re happily cooking it every second week.

Spaghetti puttanesca is just such a dish for me. It’s easy to make, I always have the ingredients tucked away in the pantry and just need a handful of fresh basil and a grating of parmesan cheese to add the final touches. Oftentimes I make it with tinned tomatoes. But if they’re having a special on fresh cherry tomatoes down at the market hall I buy a couple of pounds because they make this dish extra special, lending it a much more subtle sweetness. If you are using tinned tomatoes it’s a good idea to add about a tablespoon of tomato paste because, depending on the quality, tinned tommies can sometimes make a dish a bit runny and tomato paste will just thicken it up a bit.

So I hope you try this dish and maybe it’ll end up as one of your staples, too.

– Lenny

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14 Responses to “Ready, steady, spaghetti: Puttanesca pronto”

  • The spaghetti looks really tastey! I was wondering whether using brown sugar could add a bit of depth to the flavor though. I haven’t tried the recipe yet, but I’m looking forward to.

  • Great classic dish. Try mixing pasta and sauce together in large bowl with less sauce, a pasta sauce should lubricate the pasta not drown it. Also, a good tip is too cut the cherry tomatoes in half and squueze out the juice and seeds before adding to the pan. Dececco pasta is probably the best commerial brand of pasta available in the uk.

  • Looks good, ah
    tonight we’ll give it a try.

  • MMm, looks tasty, and me heap big pasta fan. :-)

    As for poor old Lenny, and her umming and ahh’ing, leave it in. :) Makes her seem human, and less like an an episode of ‘Ready Steady Cook’. It was a good show as always.

  • There was a nytimes video by the minimalist on this very dish just in the last month:

    The recipes seem pretty identical, although I am partial to Lenny’s saintly forbearance…

  • Lenny – you rock and your food is way yum. Your sidekick was a total tool in this episode. If he keeps (as we say in the southern US) “cutting the fool”, you might think about finding someone a little more interesting to umm…taste your food.


  • Fabulous suggestion to put a couple of tins of anchovies, olives and capers in the pantry…my tried but true bolognese was getting extremely boring! Thanks a ton! (oh, and love your vlog)

  • Thanks for your responses, everyone.

    Kate, I haven’t tried it with brown sugar, but maybe I will next time to see what difference it makes.

    Mr W, what’s dececco pasta and where can I buy some?! Sounds yummy. And I know Italians eat their pasta with a lot less sauce than us (and probably with yummy fresh pasta, too). But there’s something you should know about Aussies: nary a one does not drown their pasta in lots of sauce. However one day I promise to make my herbey/herbie?? pasta for you – definitely a dish where the pasta shines.

    Laura! I’ll not hear a bad word about Ready Steady Cook!! Good old Ains and his mates entertain me regularly (I am a food show junkie, though – the only ones I can’t stomach are Floyd’s, although Waz is a fan

    – Lenny

  • I never hear the umms ’til they’re pointed out!

  • you guys are so so funny. I was enjoying your banter to no ends….
    keep shooting and bon appetit !

  • I love your shows.
    The umming thing was just funny. How much is bothered Waz. The slight comedy injected into your shows makes them all the more enjoyable.

    I have to comment on this dish – the colour looked beautiful and Fresh!


  • Another top show, I find your comments when your filming about angles etc. keep the whole thing real and make it great to watch!


  • Hi,
    I tried this recipe the other night, however I used Italian tinned plum tomatoes instead of the cherry tomatoes, and it was really good. I’ll try this one again.
    Ps: Great show!

  • Watching from Boston – Excellent show – keep it up…

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