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.
In medium frying pan, heat butter and olive oil. Add anchovies (including the oil in the can) and sauté lightly, breaking up and mashing the anchovies as they cook). Add garlic and continue to sauté the mixture until the garlic is tender. Add capers, olives, tomatoes (including juice from can), and spices. Cook sauce on low while boiling pasta in a separate pot. When the pasta is done and drained, toss it with the sauce until the pasta is coated. Serve with crusty French or sourdough bread.
Ditalini and I have prepared this dish with all kinds of pasta (that’s fettuccini in the photo). If you don’t like tomatoes, just leave them out. You may be tempted to use kalamata olives, but we find the anchovies add enough of a tangy flavor, so we use regular canned olives. For some reason, Parmesan cheese doesn’t see to go with this dish, but of course you can add it if you want.