This variation on Pasta alla Putanesca is one of my favorite pantry meals, with no chopping required except for the olives and even they can go in whole. No matter what you think about anchovies, please give them a chance. They dissolve completely with no fishy taste at all, creating a deep, rich sauce that tastes like it simmered for hours. This staple of Italian cooking is a great way to build flavor in a sauce, especially when you can’t eat garlic or onions.
Buy the anchovies packed in olive oil, in a glass jar with a lid if possible. That way you can conveniently store the remaining anchovies in the fridge. Just don’t use anchovy paste, which is saltier than the fillets and tastes a bit fishy when used in larger amounts.
I used to make something similar that had lots of onions and garlic in it, along with a jar of pasta sauce, a 1/2 cup of white wine and a can of tuna, and for the longest time I couldn’t figure out how to recreate it without the onions. But one day I saw a recipe for Pasta Puttanesca and realized that except for the onions, wine and tuna, it shared the same ingredients. Anchovies were the secret to a fabulous onion-free sauce and after a bit of tweaking, I came up with this version of my old stand-by. Of course my other recipe was almost certainly a take-off on Pasta Puttanesca, so here I am, back to the original via the back door, which makes me think there really isn’t anything new out there. It’s all an adaptation to fit our circumstances.
Gluten-free Pasta with Tomatoes, Tuna, Black Olives and Capers
Serves 4 to 5, adapted from Mark Bittman
1/4 cup (60 ml) garlic infused olive oil (or sauté 3 garlic cloves in oil and discard)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 to 5 ml) red pepper flakes, to taste
6 anchovy fillets, bottled in oil
2 cans (14.5 ounces or 411 grams) diced tomatoes with juice
2/3 cup (160 ml) Kalamata olives (about 30), pitted and chopped
2 tablespoons (30 ml) capers, drained
1 can (7 ounces or 198 grams) tuna, drained
Black pepper to taste
1 pound (450 grams) gluten-free spaghetti
Put a large pan of water on to boil. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet and add the red pepper flakes and the anchovies. Mash the anchovies with the back of a spoon until they form a paste, then add the tomatoes and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Add the spaghetti to the water as soon as it boils and cook until al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.
Add the olives, capers and tuna to the sauce. Break the tuna up with a fork and stir the sauce, letting it simmer until everything is hot. Add the pasta and toss until evenly coated. Season to taste with pepper and serve.