My twist on whore’s pasta (spaghetti alla puttanesca)!

I have to cook this dish when my husband is out working, usually on a Saturday, when he’s shooting a wedding, because he hasn’t yet learned to love the incredible flavours of some of my favourite umami boosters that make this dish so mouthwatering.  Traditionally, a puttanesca sauce relys on anchovies to give it a salty, umami boost, but you really won’t miss this with my recipe!  Essentially, it is very simple and you can adapt to your own tastes: it is a tomato base with some nice Italian extras thrown in. 
I mentioned umami in my last post, the magic 5th taste that makes food taste so appetising, and this has umami in abundance: olives, capers (in vinegar), mushrooms, artichokes and not to mention the tomatoes themselves.  Here is a list of what I used: (makes 2 servings – one for now, one for later!!)
Light olive oil for cooking
I small onion, chopped,
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped,
2-3 mushrooms, halved, then sliced,
1/3 of an aubergine, cut into small dice
generous shake of dried herbs – I use oregano, parsley, thyme, marjoram – but use whatever combo pleases you 🙂
1 400g tin of tomatoes
small handful of green olives (I used marinated garlic olives)
a few pieces of marinated artichoke, chopped
3 teaspoons of capers (drained and lightly rinsed)pinch of salt to taste
generous grinding of pepper
a teaspoon of maple syrup (or agave nectar, or just brown sugar)
a shake of shake-o-cini (optional)

Method:1. Fry onion and garlic in a generous slug of the oil until softened. ( you will need the oil for the aubergine and mushrooms)
2. Add chopped vegetables and herbs (if using dried) and fry until the aubergine looks nice and soft.
3. Add tinned tomatoes, olives, capers, artichokes and stir.
4. Add seasoning, shake o-cini and syrup, stir.  At this point, I would add a little water to allow the sauce to cook down and then put the spaghetti on.
5. When spaghetti is cooked, drain (leaving a small amount of the spaghetti water in the pan to keep the spaghetti ‘lubricated'(!), and put your Puttanesca sauce on top, stir through and serve. 
No need for (vegan) cheese – this has so much flavour it would be a waste 🙂

This recipe is pretty versatile and you can do all sorts of things to make it your own – add fresh herbs near the end for example, season with tamari soy instead of use salt and shake-o cini.  Leave out aubergines, add black olives etc etc….  Just get the balance of flavours right for you – ensure you TASTE your sauce before you serve it to make sure you got the balance right.