Sicilian Puttanesca with Almond Breadcrumbs
Olives, capers, chili, anchovies and parsley season tomato sauce tossed with spaghetti and topped with toasted almond-breadcrumbs.
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 6 good-quality anchovy fillets
- 1 fresh red chili pepper, such as a Fresno pepper or hot Italian cherry pepper, seeded and finely chopped
- 4 large cloves garlic, very thinly sliced or chopped
- 4-5 beefsteak tomatoes, peeled and chopped or 1 can Italian whole, peeled tomatoes, sliced, with their juices (28 ounces)
- A few tablespoons of capote capers, drained
- 1/2 cup oil-cured olives, pitted and chopped (a couple of handfuls)
- A few leaves of basil, torn
- A handful of flat leaf parsley tops, chopped
- 1 pound spaghetti
Toast the almonds in a small pan over medium heat. Let cool, then add them to a food processor. Process the almonds into a very fine chop. Heat half of the EVOO, three turns of the pan, in the same small skillet, then add the breadcrumbs and toast until fragrant. Combine with the almonds and reserve.
Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
Heat the remaining EVOO, three turns of the pan, over medium heat. Melt the anchovies into the EVOO, then add the chili pepper and garlic and stir for another minute or two. Add the tomatoes, capers and olives and cook the sauce until the tomatoes break down, 8-10 minutes. Wilt in a few leaves of torn fresh basil during the last few minutes the sauce is on stove.
While the sauce cooks, salt the water and cook the pasta to al dente. Reserve a cup of the starchy cooking water before draining. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce. Use the starchy liquid to incorporate the sauce with the pasta a splash at a time – use only as much as you need to combine.
Serve the pasta in shallow bowls topped with parsley and the almond breadcrumbs.