Pasta Punttanesca is one of my all time favorite pasta dishes. It is a go to dish any type of night for me. It is the best way to make a regular tomato sauce taste special.I even got Brian into it and became part of my regular pasta rotation. This and shrimp scampi are my favorite quick weeknight meals. Kalamata olives are our favorite and they are definitely the star of the dish. I always have a jar of pitted Kalamata olives in the pantry. They are great to blend into tapenades, or to use in salads.
There are anchovies in the sauce, which most people are afraid of. They are such a key ingredient. They melt into the sauce so you don’t know they are there. But, you would definitely miss them if you omitted them. They add that depth of flavor which makes you unable to stop eating this dish!
I love using thicker bucatini pasta, most pasta brands make this. My favorite is from DeCecco, the strands become so plump! Of course, any kid of spaghetti is fine, even a rigatoni if that is all you have on hand. Make sure you have crusty bread on hand to mop up the sauce!
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, until al dente. Make sure to add salt to the pasta water! Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water before you drain the pasta once it is ready.
While the pasta is cooking, in a large saute pan add the olive oil over a medium heat. Add in the garlic and anchovies, along with some oil from the can. Saute for about 2-3 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, olives, and season with salt, pepper, and oregano. Gently stir to incorporate. Let the sauce come to a slow simmer for about five minutes. Make sure you taste the sauce to see if you need to add more seasoning.
Then add in your pasta to the saute pan along with the pasta water. Toss the pasta in the sauce gently to coat. Serve with crusty bread and fresh basil if you have it on hand!