My sister thinks anchovies are not very useful. Here's why I keep a couple of tins of anchovies and a jar of capers in the pantry at all times:
Pasta Puttanesca, from Best Recipes Italian Classics, p. 153
4 medium cloves garlic, minced to paste or passed through garlic press
1 pound spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes, more if you need it spicier
4 teaspoons minced anchovies (about 8-9 fillets)
1 28oz can diced tomatoes, drained (reserve 1/2 cup juice)
3 tablespoons capers, rinsed
1/2 cup black olives, coarsely chopped - I actually use a whole can b/c we like olives
1/4 cup minced parsley leaves if you have it handy
1) Bring water to rolling boil in a large pot. Meanwhile, mix the garlic with a tablespoon of water in a small bowl and set aside. When the water is boiling, add a little salt and the spaghetti. In another pan, heat the oil, garlic mixture, red pepper flakes, and anchovies over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is fragrant but not yet browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and simmer until slightly thickened, about 8 minutes (to coincide with the pasta being done).
2) Drain the pasta & return it to the pot. Add 1/4 cup reserved tomato juice and toss to combine.
3) Stir the capers, olives, and parsley into the sauce. Pour the sauce over the pasta and combine, adding more tomato juice to moisten if necessary. Serve immediately.
Edit: Here's the almost as good even easier version:
boil water. run a couple of cloves of garlic through a press and mince up about half a tin of anchovies. Add some olive oil to your 12" skillet and when it starts to shimmer, add the garlic, anchovies, and some hot pepper flakes to it. Then add the pasta to your pasta pot.
After a couple of minutes, add a big can or 2 little cans of diced tomatoes (no juice, save it) to the garlicky mix and simmer. while it does that, chop up some olives, most or all of a can. get a big handful of capers and rinse them under the faucet in your hand. When the pasta's done, drain it and put it back in the pot with the tomato sauce, olives, and capers, plus some of the canned tomato juice. toss it up and serve.
You can totally do that.
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