Pasta Puttanesca (Tart's Spaghetti)
In Italian, a puttanesca is a 'lady of the night', which is why at home we always refer to this recipe as tart's spaghetti. Presumably the sauce has adopted this name because it's hot, strong and gutsy – anyway, eating it is a highly pleasurable experience.
If you are a strict vegetarian, replace the anchovies with another heaped tablespoon of capers.
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To make the sauce, heat the oil in a medium saucepan, then add the garlic, chilli and basil and cook these briefly till the garlic is pale gold. Then add all the other sauce ingredients, stir and season with a little pepper – but no salt yet because of the anchovies.
Turn the heat to low and let the sauce simmer very gently without a lid for 40 minutes, by which time it will have reduced to a lovely thick mass, with very little liquid left.
While the sauce is cooking, take your largest saucepan, fill it with at least 4 pints (2.25 litres) of hot water and bring it up to a gentle simmer. Add a few drops of olive oil and a little salt and then, 8 minutes before the sauce is ready, plunge the spaghetti into the water.
Stir well to prevent it clogging together, then time it for exactly 8 minutes.
After that drain it in a colander, return it to the saucepan - presto pronto-, and toss the sauce in it, adding the basil.
Mix thoroughly and serve in well-heated bowls, with lots of grated Parmesan to sprinkle over – and have plenty of gutsy, 'tarty' Italian red wine to wash it down.
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