January 11, 2011

Lily’s Puttanesca-esque Sauce for the Parents {Naptime Tales from the Trenches}

pasta sauce

This is the 9th installment of my Tales from the Trenches Series. An ongoing series where friends and readers share their stories and recipes about the great food they fit into family life. We all have tips and tricks to share with each other: when we cook, what we cook and how we cook the delicious food we love to eat. If you are interested in contributing a story and recipe please feel free to contact me. Today my friend Lily is sharing a recipe for a favorite meal she and her husband share after their daughter goes to bed. Lily and I have known each other since high school and these days she is busy mother, wife and doctoral student in New York.

I have the great fortune of having a husband who loves to cook.  Most nights he makes dinner after we put our 17 month-old daughter to bed.  However, as our daughter gets older, I’m realizing that at some point we will have to start eating dinner as a family.  That’s the way I was raised and I have so many fond and funny memories of family dinners from my childhood.  Because my husband usually doesn’t get home from work until 7:00, I am now, for the first time, facing the prospect of making dinner for the whole family by myself.  Over the last few months, I’ve given it a try a few times just to see what works, and one night I almost accidentally came up with what turned out to be an amazingly simple and really delicious pasta sauce, inspired by puttanesca sauce.  It was invented out of necessity and the ingredients I had on hand, but has become a favorite.  It can be made in less than 30 minutes, and stored in the fridge (or freezer) until dinner time.  It’s made with fresh tomatoes but involves no peeling or seeding.  I love that because it’s all fresh ingredients, you can use as many organic ingredients as you can get your hands on.  And my foodie husband can’t get enough of it.  I hope you enjoy it.



Quick Puttanesca-esque Sauce


2 packages of grape tomatoes, whole
4 cloves garlic, crushed with knife and minced
6-8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (I’m not sure about this measurement, it should be a generous amount, enough to cover the bottom of the pan – the olive oil really forms the base of the sauce)
2-3 handfuls pitted kalamata olives, chopped
1-2 tbsp capers
1-2 tbsp caper juice (the liquid from the capers jar)

–the quantities of the olives, capers and caper juice depend on how salty you like your sauce. I tend to go for most salty.

1 lb pasta (we like gemelli for this sauce)

Hard parmesean or romano cheese


1. Put pasta water on to boil, salted [can be postponed if you’re making the sauce in advance].

2. Add olive oil and minced garlic to saucepan.  Cook over medium heat until you begin to smell the garlic.

3. Add both tubs of grape tomatoes.  Cook over high heat until they begin to burst.  Once most have burst, reduce to medium heat.

4. Add olives, capers and caper juice.

5. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes are no longer recognizable as tomatoes.  They will almost totally dissolve. Use the back of a spoon to help any resistant tomatoes along.

6. Simmer sauce over low heat while you add pasta to water.  Once pasta is nearly done, add 3 to 4 tbs of the pasta water to the sauce.  Simmer until the water evaporates. [This last step can be omitted if you’re making the sauce ahead of time]

7. Once the pasta is cooked and sauced, grate some parmesean cheese over the whole thing.

Naptime Notes

Naptime Recipe Serving ideas

Serve it up with a big glass of wine!

Naptime Stopwatch

20 minutes!

Naptime Reviews

A simple fresh sauce, perfect!

More Naptime Recipes

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