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Aug 30, 2006 01:54 AM

Pasta Puttanesca

Okay, so i just made Pasta Puttanesca according to Jamie Oliver's recipe on I found it much too fishy and maybe this was because of the anchovies i used but it lacks the richness i like in good anchovies (guess it was the little hairy things). Anyway, I added some Blackstrap Molasses to it and man, oh yeah. It mellowed the dish out and gave it a real earthiness and complexity. Just a suggestion, I look forward to adding it to a few other tomato sauce dishes.

You can find the original recipe here:

but regardless, i would go with fewer anchovies the next time, and i like anchovies.

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  1. 12 anchovies really sounds like a lot, even if you do like them. To me the best way to balance these three very strong elements is to use the rule of halfs: start with your olives (maybe 3/4 cup per pound of pasta), go with half the volume for the capers, and half the volume again for the anchovies (loosely packed, maybe 6-8). You will get a very strong anchovy presence, but the other items will shine through on their own.

    1. I agree that it seems like a lot of anchovies, but it also made me think of older recipes and I wonder how much protein was available to poor, coastal towns in Italy (or similar places) back in the day? Today we expect any market we enter to have scores of protein sources, but 200 years ago, you could only pretty much eat what was locally available. The Anchovy might have been the chicken, beef, lamb and ham of the sea.

      1 Reply
      1. re: tastyjon

        true, true but i think I'll cut the number of anchovies in half and have a glass of milk

      2. Rather than open a whole can of anchovies for the few that putanesca needs ( and eat the rest), I use a few squirts of Thai fish sauce to control the saltiness.

        1. Strange that Mario Batali uses NO anchovies in this Puttanesca recipe on Food Network's web site:

          2 Replies
          1. re: Norm Man

            i noticed that as well which is why i used another recipe. However, if Mario was doing it, then it was probably the "right" way.

            1. re: Norm Man

              Interestingly, lookin in Mario Batali's book,


              he does use 8-10 salted anchovies, and breaks them down in the cooking process.

            2. I add add both mushrooms and parsley and if available chopped fresh plum tomato and torn basil..... cuts down saltiness with out compromising flavor.My family would also have "modega"(sp?)(sauted flavored bread crumbs)to sprinkle on top.But you need the anchovies.I sometimes add Pecorino Romano