This is my interpretation of spaghetti alla puttanesca (whore’s spaghetti), a simple yet robust pasta dish that’s easy to make with around-the-house ingredients (well, our house anyway). Don’t be squeamish about the anchovies … they add flavor to the dish, but without the strong salty taste people associate with anchovies on pizza. You can make the sauce with or without tomatoes. If you want to make a fancier meal, serve it with salad on the side.
Drain the anchovies. In medium frying pan, heat butter and olive oil. Add garlic and anchovies, sauté lightly. Break up and mash anchovies as they cook. When garlic and anchovies are ready, add tomatoes (with juice from can) and spices. Let sauce simmer for about 20 minutes. Boil pasta in separate pot, drain. Return pasta to pot. Add the sauce and toss until the pasta is coated. Serve with crusty French or sourdough bread and freshly-grated Parmesan.
Ditalini and I have prepared this dish with all kinds of pasta. If you don’t like tomatoes, just leave them out.