Pasta Puttanesca (aka Scarlet ladies’ pasta)

The other night we made a perennially popular and super-easy pasta dish.  It’s the perfect fall back if you’ve got nothing in the fridge except for an onion, half a jar of olives & a few capers, and nothing on the shelves except for half a pack of pasta and a tin of tomatoes!

I am extremely grateful to Vaishali Honawar (blogging on One Green Planet) from whom I got the idea of this vegetarian alternative to anchovies.  It’s so good we also mix up a batch to have on pizzas (spread on the base before adding the cheese).

The dried seaweed I uses is Dulse from Mara.  It makes a wonderful savoury cooking ingredient.  Personally I’m not a fan of sprinkling it dry on food (as they recommend), but as a cooking ingredient it’s indispensable so I’ll try and add a whole post on the subject of seaweed another time …

These quantities serve two (habitually) greedy people.

Pasta Puttanesca


 250g (half a pack) of spaghetti or fettuccine
2 tbsp of standard olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 -3 cloves of garlic
1/2-1 mild red chilli (depending on how hot you like it) or 1/2-1 tsp of chilli flakes
2 tbsps of capers
2 tbsps of black olives (stones removed)
1 tin (400g) chopped tomato or a 500g packet of passata
125ml of red wine (but only if you’ve got a bottle open)
2 tbsps powdered seaweed
1 tsp tamari
1 tsp dark soy sauce
a small handful of fresh oregano
extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to serve
mature cheddar, grated to serve
Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente.
Mix the seaweed, tamari and soy sauce to form a paste.  Set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a saucepan.   Add the chopped onion and cook over a low heat for around 5 mins until starting to soften.  Add the minced garlic and chilli and cook for another two minutes.

Add the seaweed mix, the tomato and wine (if using).  Bring to the boil and then simmer, stirring reguarly until it begins to reduce and thicken.  This should take between 5 and 10 minutes.   Check and season and then add the spaghettit o the pan and mix well to combine.

Sprinkle over the oregano leaves (if using) and a splash of olive oil.  Serve with grated mature cheddar (my vegetarian alternative to parmesan).




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