Speedy Gourmet

Tonight I hosted an impromptu dinner party for some of my girlfriends who came over to watch "The Bachelorette"…otherwise known as our version of Monday Night Football. Since I had no time for a trip to the grocery store I had to get creative with what I already had…it was Kitchen Challenge time!

The contents of my refrigerator and pantry loosely consisted of Cherry Tomatoes, Basil, Mozzarella, Zucchini, Garlic, Olives, Anchovies, Cremini Mushrooms, a Lemon, Black Truffle Paste, Capers, Romano Cheese, Puff Pastry, Dry Spaghetti, Olive Oil and the usual spice/seasoning suspects. After my quick inventory I realized I had all the ingredients to make a Pasta Puttanesca, which was actually somewhat appropriate (or a bit humorous) for our “Bachelorette” evening, as the word "puttana" in Italian translates "whore" or "prostitute”. It has been said that Puttanesca originated in the mid-1900’s when the brothels of Italy were state-run and the "whores" would make this pasta dish to lure in potential customers, others say it's because the strong smell--anchovies, garlic--made the pasta itself "smell like a whore." Either way, it is delicious pasta, extremely easy to make and budget friendly to boot!

So with little time to spare I began to prep my ingredients. As I was sorting through everything I quickly realized I had enough goodies to make a few side dishes: A Truffled Mushroom Tart and a refreshing Salad of Tomato, Zucchini, Mozzarella and Basil. After about 25 minutes of cutting, dicing, mixing and cooking (just in time for my guests to arrive)…Viola, dinner was served. Top that Rachel Ray!

My recipe for Pasta alla Puttanesca:


1 pound dried spaghetti
3 garlic cloves (put through a garlic press)
4 anchovy filets (packed in olive oil)
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 TBS capers
1 cup of cherry tomatoes (halved)
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives (chopped)
2 TBS of fresh lemon juice
½ cup Romano Cheese (grated)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped basil
Salt/Pepper to taste


Cook spaghetti in a pasta pot of boiling salted water until al dente.

While pasta boils, cook garlic, anchovy, red-pepper flakes, salt, pepper in oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant... about 2 minutes.

Add tomatoes to garlic oil along with olives and capers and simmer, stirring occasionally, until pasta is ready. Drain pasta and add to sauce. Simmer, turning pasta with tongs about 2 minutes.

Sprinkle with basil, lemon juice and Romano cheese.

Serves 6 people

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