Make this free-form puttanesca a few times and watch your kitchen confidence soar. Serve it over linguine or spaghetti or bucatini or whatever dried pasta you happen to have in the house. I like it with shells sometimes, because the olives can get lost in them.
|Red pepper flakes|
Sauté some anchovies and a lot of minced garlic in a lot of olive oil while your salted pasta water comes to a boil in a big pot. (How many anchovies? How many you got? I go for a minimum of four, and the same with cloves of garlic.) Add your pasta to the pot. When the fish are melted and the garlic’s gone gold, add a large can of tomatoes and stir everything together. Let that simmer a while, and get a little thicker, then add the olives and capers, and red pepper flakes until it’s as fiery as you like. Taste for salt and pepper. Keep simmering and, when the pasta is done to your liking, taste the sauce again, drain the pasta, and toss it with the sauce. Shower the dish with grated Parmesan and serve.
Tip: You can cook the dried pasta directly in the sauce if you like, adding a couple cups of water or chicken stock and covering the pan for 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.