The fish is quickly poached directly in the sauce, and the salmon filets are infused with the pungent flavors of the Puttanesca Sauce itself. Onions, garlic and the optional anchovies are sautéed together in olive oil, the anchovies will dissolve into the oil leaving only a hint of their intense flavor. Combining that with the tomatoes, capers, olives, fresh herbs and spices, Salmon Alla Putannesca is a quick and easy 30-minute dinner option, with remarkable flavor.
So, the name, well, ahem, about that. Apparently or purportedly, but perhaps not actually, there are numerous stories, and legends surrounding the sauce itself. Literally translated, Alla Puttanesca means ‘in the style of the whore’. Yes, you read that right, Italian prostitutes (I never thought I’d write that in my food blog), would make this sauce with its intense, pungent aroma to attract patrons into their brothel from the streets. The sauce is spicy, and a little salty, making the diners thirsty and thus the ladies were able to sell more wine and liquor. Very cleverly loosening the pocketbooks of their drunken clientele. A dish perfect for a bunch of sailors fresh off the boat.
I’m not entirely sure how the Puttanesca Sauce got its very interesting and somewhat controversial name, but it is amazing! And if this classic dish was concocted by some crafty working ladies, then thank you very much ladies, it’s a damn good sauce!
Timing is important with this pasta. You want the pasta to be slightly undercooked when the salmon is done, remove the salmon and then transfer the pasta directly into the sauce and finish cooking the sauce and pasta together. The pasta absorbs the flavors of the sauce this way and the pasta water adds great flavor and consistency to the dish.
Here is how I make my Salmon Alla Putannesca:
INGREDIENTS for two:
- 2 6-Ounce Salmon Filets, or 1 12-Ounce Filet, skin removed
- 1/2 Box Dried Spaghetti (2 servings)
- ½ Cup Onion, Diced
- 3 Cloves Garlic, Crushed and Chopped
- 3 Anchovies (Optional)
- 3 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- ¼ Cup Green Olives, Sliced
- ¼ Cup Kalamata Olives, Sliced
- 3 Plum Tomatoes, Diced
- 1 Lemon, Zest, and Juice
- 1 Tablespoon Fresh Rosemary, Chopped
- 1 Tablespoon Pickled Pepperoncini
- ½ Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
- 4 Fresh Basil Leaves, Chopped
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
- 2 Tablespoons Capers, Drained
- ¼ Cup Fresh Parsley, Chopped
-Bring a pot of water to a boil for the spaghetti, check the package for the cooking directions, you want the pasta to finish around the same time as the sauce, the sauce takes around 15 minutes
-Add olive oil to a heavy-bottomed pan with a lid over medium-high heat, sauté the onions, anchovies, and garlic until softened. If anchovies are omitted, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt
-Add the olives, tomatoes, zest, and juice of the lemon, rosemary, dried oregano, and pickled pepperoncini, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes
-Lightly salt and pepper the salmon filets
-Lay the salmon over the sauce, cover, and steam the salmon for approximately 7-8 minutes or to your desired doneness
-Remove the salmon from the sauce and set aside
-Add the parsley, capers, and basil to the sauce
-Lift the pasta from the water and add it directly to the sauce, toss the pasta in the sauce to finish cooking it to al dente, Add some of the pasta water to the sauce, about two ladles full.
-Serve the pasta with the salmon on top