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John Greene

Sacrilege you say? How could this sauce of such notorious origin (“puttana” in Italian means “hooker”–and legend has it that when the ladies needed something quick and hearty between appointments Puttanesca was born) be in any way associated not only with one of the 18th century’s greatest composers but with a man of the cloth as well? Though an ordained priest, Vivaldi after all was Italian, and he resided in one of the most sensual cities in the world–Venice; and as maestro di violino at the Pio Ospedale della Pieta–one of the four Venetian institutions devoted to the care of orphaned, abandoned, and “indigent” women, less than pious thoughts must have preoccupied him now and again. His music certainly often displays a sensual character that seems to draw more on Pagan subjects than Christian ones, his Quattro Stagioni being the most famous example. And listeners familiar with the many viscerally exciting, breathtakingly virtuosic passages featured in La Stravaganza, La Notte, Il Proteo, etc., can’t help but believe the source of inspiration to be secular rather than sacred. Likewise, this Puttanesca is sensually laced with delights guaranteed to excite the palate. John Greene

Recommended recordings:

Il Prete Rosso
Il Giardino Armonico (Teldec)

La Stravaganza
Arte dei Suonatori / Rachel Podger (Channel Classics)

Vivaldi Concerti della Natura
Sonatori de la Gioiosa Marca / Giuliano Carmignola (Erato)

Vivaldi String Concertos
Europa Galante / Fabio Biondi (Opus 111)

Extra virgin olive oil (a good aromatic one like Coltibuono or Olio
Sea salt
8 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
6 small dried chili peppers, crushed
1 medium grilled red pepper, finely chopped
1 28 oz. can whole San Marzano tomatoes, salted and crushed by hand
8 marinated sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
10 Calamata olives, pitted and chopped
2 tablespoons capers
2 fresh medium anchovies, cleaned, rinsed, dried, and chopped (since fresh anchovies are rarely found even in larger cities, 8 canned or bottled anchovies may be substituted)
1 lb. dry Capellini or Linguine Fini pasta
Parmigiano Reggiano

Serves 4

1. In a 10″ diameter, deep (no shorter than 3″) saucepan add a generous
bit of olive oil (just enough to completely cover the bottom) and a good
pinch of sea salt; warm at medium-low heat for two minutes.

2. Add the garlic and chilies. Continue to cook, shaking the
pan every so often to insure nothing sticks and the flavors
combine well. Cook until the edges of the garlic begin to turn
slightly brown.

3. Add the grilled red pepper to the mix, shake well
and sauté for 4 minutes.

4. Add the crushed tomatoes to the pan, stir well, and simmer for 2

5. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, the olives, and the capers, stir well,
turn the heat down to low, cover, and simmer for another 10 minutes.

6. In the meantime bring a large pot of water (about 6 quarts) to
rolling boil, add a heaping tablespoon of sea salt, the pasta, and cook until al dente.

7. Gently fold the anchovies into the sauce about 4 minutes before the
pasta is ready.

8. When the pasta is ready, drain and add to the sauce. Turn off the
heat, toss well for a minute or so, and divide among four bowls. Grate
shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano liberally over each portion and serve

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