Have you ever craved a dish you once enjoyed on a vacation?
Back in September, when Mr. Smith and I visited London, we stopped in for dinner at Spaghetti House, an Italian chain located in Sicilian Avenue. Mr. Smith ordered the Spaghetti Puttanesca, but I went with the Brit-favorite Spaghetti Bolognese.
Ok, I know what you’re thinking: Who chooses to dine at a chain restaurant when in London?!
You’re right. With all of the pubs and amazing hole-in-the-wall options, it seems ludicrous. However, when I studied there in the fall of 2004, I would pass the Spaghetti House nearly day, wishing I could sit outdoors at one of its white-clothed tables and savor a deep dish of pasta. Unfortunately, I never did stop in.
10 years later, when we passed through Sicilian Avenue on our last night in London, it was like visiting an old friend. Sure enough, Spaghetti House was still there along with its white-clothed tables and bright, hanging geraniums. So we had a seat, chatted with the lovely Dutch waiter and tucked into our pasta. After stealing several bites off Mr. Smith’s plate, however, I realized I should have gone with the Spaghetti Puttanesca.
The lesson here, folks? Olives and capers. Always go with the briny olives and capers! Another lesson? Don’t wait 8 months before deciding to cook your vacation craving at home!
One good thing about a chain restaurant is that you can view their menu online. I peeked at the Spaghetti House menu description of their Puttanesca before whipping up my own tasty version of what I like to call, “Puttan-esque-a.” Actually, what I should call this dish is “My new favorite dinner.” Shrimp, olives, arugula, sun-dried tomatoes–this could be your new favorite, too!
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 16 oz. of dried angel hair pasta, give it a good stir and cook until “al dente” according to package instructions. Drain pasta and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil plus all of the oil from 2 cans of anchovies in olive oil over medium-high heat.
Thinly slice one large onion and add to pan. Cook onion 3-5 minutes or until translucent, stirring occasionally.
Next, toss in 2-3 large cloves of minced garlic and 1/2 pound shelled and deveined shrimp. Cook one minute or until shrimp begin to turn pink, stirring after 30 seconds. Stir in the can of anchovies and break them apart with the back of a spoon until fully incorporated.
NOTE: Please don’t run away now that I’ve said the word “anchovy.” They add a bright and briny/salty flavor to dishes, not a fishy one. If you want to start off with just one can of anchovies feel free, but I think the dish really sings with two. P.S. If you’ve ever enjoyed Cesar dressing, then you’ve enjoyed a food containing anchovies. 🙂
Stir in 4-5 julienned sun-dried tomatoes, 1-2 Tablespoons of capers (not shown, but still in spirit), and a heaping 1/2 cup pitted, halved kalamata olives.
Finally, pour in about 1/4 cup of the juice from the olives, a drizzle of olive oil and give a good stir.
Dump in the cooked, drained angel hair (you might need to give it a quick rinse to loosen it up again) and a couple handfuls of arugula. Toss well and cook for one minute.
Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and some crushed red pepper and try very hard not to scarf. I might have scarfed down this Puttanesca the first couple times I made it, but I’d like to think I was making up for lost time. 🙂
Here’s to many more good vacations and tasty vacation meals!
- 16 oz. Angel hair pasta
- 2 cans anchovies in olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 1/4th teaspoon salt
- 2-3 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
- Heaping 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved
- 1/4th cup juice from jar of kalamata olives
- 4-5 sun-dried tomatoes, julienned
- 1-2 Tablespoons capers
- 1 large handful fresh arugula
- Anchovy paste, optional
- Parmesan cheese
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook angel hair until “al dente” according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat the oil from the cans of anchovies with olive oil along with 2 additional tablespoons of olive oil. Saute onion for 3-5 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic and shrimp, sprinkle with salt and cook another 1 minute, stirring halfway. Add olives, capers, tomatoes and anchovies.
- Stir in pasta and arugula and toss well. Cook for one minute or until arugula begins to wilt. Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.