Some would say pasta is the ultimate comfort food and I am not here to disagree. Sometimes it’s as easy as throwing pasta in some boiling water and tossing the noodles with a jar of pre-made sauce and calling it a day. Though it may be intimidating at first, making sauce from scratch is not that difficult and if you have the inclination to do so, it really is worth the extra effort.
This is a take on a puttanesca sauce, which includes the briny tang of capers and Kalamata olives, however, with a simple pomodoro sauce in mind, I added a bit of ghee (or you could use a pat of butter) to really round out its flavor and then stirred in about a ½ cup of pasta water to make the sauce cling to the noodles. You can pump up the nutrition a bit by using whole wheat spaghetti or even zucchini noodles or toss in some extra veggies such as squash, broccoli or spinach. This time, I just wanted a simple pasta dish with a sauce that I could call my own.
spaghetti with olives & capers
Whole-wheat spaghetti tossed in a slurp-able sauce and punctuated with the briny tang of olives and capers really doesn’t get much better! Unless you top your bowl with Parmesan cheese and basil…and then it does.
- 2-4 tbs olive oil
- 1 large shallot, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, pureed in a blender
- I used Muir Glen’s fire roasted tomatoes which, to me, are the best!
- kosher salt, to taste
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/3 cup kalamata olives, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup capers, roughly chopped
- 1 tbs kalamata olive brine
- 1 tbs caper brine
- 1 pinch sugar
- 3 large fresh basil sprigs
- 8-10 oz. whole wheat spaghetti, broken in half
- 1 tbs ghee (or unsalted butter)
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Heat olive oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium-low heat. Add minced shallot and cook, stirring frequently, about 8-10 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 2-4 minutes. Add the crushed red pepper flakes and cook another minute longer.
Increase the heat to medium and season with kosher salt. Then add in the pureed tomatoes, kalamata olives, capers, olive brine, caper brine and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens slightly and flavors come together about 20 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in basil sprigs and set aside.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with kosher salt and cook spaghetti, stirring occasionally until about 2 minutes before noodles are tender. Reserve about ½ a cup of pasta water while draining pasta.
Discard basil in skillet and warm sauce over high heat. Stir in pasta water to loosen sauce, and bring to a boil. Add noodles and cook, stirring so sauce coats the pasta, about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and add ghee and ¼ cup of parmesan cheese. Toss together until cheese and ghee melt.
Serve into warm bowls and top with more parmesan cheese if desired.