March is "National Nutrition Month" offering the perfect opportunity to spice things up in your life with "Pasta Puttanesca," a healthy, sinfully delicious dish you can whip up in minutes and “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right” - the 2014 theme for "National Nutrition Month" announced in a recent Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' press feature.
"Pasta Puttanesca" (AKA: Harlot's Pasta) is a famous Italian dish which originated in Naples, Italy. Known for its spicy taste and aroma, "Pasta Puttanesca" has as many "saucy"stories about how it came about as there are ingredients in it. Due to its name, which is short for "alla puttanesca," and which literally means: "in the style of a prostitute," "Pasta Puttanesca" enjoys a humorous spotlight in the movie "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events:"
Violet Baudelaire: Dinner is served. Puttanesca.
Count Olaf: What did you call me?
Klaus Baudelaire: It's pasta... Pasta Puttanesca.
Count Olaf: Where's the roast beef?
Klaus Baudelaire: Roast beef?
So just how did "Pasta Puttanesca" get its "racy" reputation? One simple explanation is that the sauce has a spicy, hot flavor and aroma, all descriptives that can be associated with a "lady of the night."
Another story theorizes that this Italian pasta dish originated during the time of "massage parlors" and brothels, because it was a cheap meal that could be made quickly to keep men happy while they "waited their turn." Other stories also say the harlots would place a freshly cooked batch of this dish on their window sills to attract new customers.
There is yet another version of the story bearing reference to the "ladies of the night" because they would make this dish for themselves after a hard day/night at work - as it was quick, easy, and delicious - and utilized many ingredients they could have readily available in the fridge or pantry.
And finally, there is theory that when "decent" married women would see the "ladies of the night" walking on the streets they would through sauce (apparently made from their "leftovers") onto them from the balconies of their homes yelling out "puttana, puttana" - which translates to "whore" in Italian, and which is what the word "puttanesca" is a derivative of.
All suggestive beginnings aside, "National Nutrition Month" is the perfect time to stock up on the ingredients to make "Pasta Puttanesca" - which are loaded with anti-oxidants such as those found on the California Living™ list of "Top 10 Foods proven to enhance health & longevity" - which includes California extra-virgin olive oil, fresh California garlic, tomatoes and California olives, to name a few.
Pasta Puttanesca is also easy on wallet and on the eyes, which some consider - the perfect dish. So go ahead, spice up your life with a hot steaming dish of "Pasta Puttanesca" during "National Nutrition Month:"
- 1/2 lb. pasta - go for whole grain, high fiber varieties for added health benefits
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil - organic, first cold press
- 1 tin anchovy, drained, or 1 can white albacore tuna, drained
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3 - 4 Roma tomatoes, chopped and seeded
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes
- 2 tbs capers (or more if you like them)
- 1 handful black olives, kalamata olives, or 1 handful green olives, or mixed
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
- Fresh parsley (or cilantro) chopped for garnish
- Sprinkle of sea salt and a few grinds of fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Put the pasta on to cook.
- Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat and add the fish and garlic.
- Stir until the fish has fallen apart. Add the tomatoes, chili flakes, capers and olives, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5-6 minutes, until the tomatoes start to collapse.
- Season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper - and serve over the cooked pasta.
- Top with grated Parmesan Cheese, and serve with a large green salad - Enjoy!
Yields 4 Servings
While eating healthy is a great goal all year long, March is "National Nutrition Month" and the perfect time to buy "California Grown" foods. It is also a great time to let us know what kinds of healthy recipes you are looking for us to feature in the comments section below.
Here's to a super healthy & happy "National Nutrition Month 2014" and until next time...keep the (healthy) party going ~ Aprilanne