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Deconstructed Puttanesca


tammylc
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I'm putting together a dinner party for my wine club, and for one of the courses I'm planning to serve fish with a puttanesca sauce. For a fun plating idea (and to get around the problem that one of our members is vegetarian) I had though of perhaps doing a deconstructed version. A roasted cherry tomato, a whole olive, an anchovy filet, etc. But does that just miss the point of them all coming together into something better than the sum of the parts?

If I give up on the idea of accomodating the vegetarian, I had thought about make a puttanesca sauce, pureeing and straining it, then using that as a base with the deconstructed elements on top.

Thoughts? Ideas?

Tammy's Tastings

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eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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If I have any credibility left after ruining the squash last year, I'm also casting my vote for the latter approach.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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You're serving fish to a vegetarian, but you're concerned about serving a puttanesca sauce because it contains anchovy?

I should have been more clear... A non-anchovy including puttanesca sauce could be more easily adapted to a vegetarian alternative for this course - so she gets tofu instead of fish, for example, but we can use the same sauce.

Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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If I have any credibility left after ruining the squash last year, I'm also casting my vote for the latter approach.

You didn't ruin the squash. Stop worrying about it. It was very tasty!

I think the latter approach is the way to go. Said vegetarian has in the past knowingly eaten a tapenade containing anchovies, so maybe she'll be willing to look the other way about the sauce anyway...

Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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So, now that that's decided, anybody have a favorite puttanesca recipe to share?

I used the following for many years. It's quick and easy.

Best Puttanesca Sauce

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped fine

1 28 oz. can whole plum tomatoes, drained and

chopped with juice reserved

1/2 tsp. dried red pepper flakes

6-8 anchovy fillets chopped

1/2 cup brine-cured black olives such as

Kalamata, Nicoise, or Gaeta

1/4 capers drained

1/4 cup minced Italian (flat leaf) parsley

1/4 cup basil (fresh) and 1/4 cup oregano (fresh)

salt & black pepper to taste

In a large skillet heat oil & cook onions,

garlic, & red pepper flakes over medium/low

heat until onions wilted. Add remaining

ingredients including reserved tomato juice,

& simmer until thickened. Serve immediately

over pasta.

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At the risk of moving the decision backwards, count me among those who feel that the sauce is greater than the sum of it's parts and hence might not be the best candidate for the vegetarian.

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You could leave out the canned anchovies and serve whole salt-packed fillets on the side.

Or make an individual helping of the sauce without anchovies, it's not that difficult.

I always have to do "work arounds" when cooking for my family,

My one sister is a vegetarian, the other refuses to eat salt or any form of spice but I always manage to adapt my sauces by having two individual portions on the side.

Easy when the base of your sauce is the same :laugh:

Greg

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So, now that that's decided, anybody have a favorite puttanesca recipe to share?

I used the following for many years. It's quick and easy.

Best Puttanesca Sauce

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped fine

1 28 oz. can whole plum tomatoes, drained and

chopped with juice reserved

1/2 tsp. dried red pepper flakes

6-8 anchovy fillets chopped

1/2 cup brine-cured black olives such as

Kalamata, Nicoise, or Gaeta

1/4 capers drained

1/4 cup minced Italian (flat leaf) parsley

1/4 cup basil (fresh) and 1/4 cup oregano (fresh)

salt & black pepper to taste

In a large skillet heat oil & cook onions,

garlic, & red pepper flakes over medium/low

heat until onions wilted. Add remaining

ingredients including reserved tomato juice,

& simmer until thickened. Serve immediately

over pasta.

Thanks for the recipe!

What's the unit that should go with the 1/4 capers? Cup?

What's the number of servings from this? How much pasta would you usually be able to dress? I'm not serving it with pasta, but I'm trying to get a sense of if I need one recipes worth or more for ~18 servings (it's the 2nd course of a 5+ course meal, so probably being served with a 2 oz fish portion).

Anyone else have a favorite recipe to share, or does this look pretty standard?

Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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Tammy, I have been away from the computer for a few days. Yes, the recipe should read 1/4 cup of capers. I think the amount is sufficient for apound of pasta so that would be perhaps 8 primi piatti (first course) servings or 4 main course servings. In a 5-course meal for eightenn people such as you mentioned, a double batch would be enough to complement 2-oz pasta servings. If you are using it to dress up two-ounce fish portions, a 1/4 cup topper over the fish might do the trick, so a single batch could be workable. Good luck!

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Thanks, Mark. I ended up going with a slightly different recipe (from Rachel Ray of all people!), but they're all variations on the theme. It was great, and was really fabulous with the food and the wine.

I served it with a 2 oz fish portion, and a single batch was just right.

Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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