Pasta Puttanesca with Scallops



For Valentine’s Day, I wanted to make something Italian and romantic for dinner, and a red-sauced pasta puttanesca came to mind. While accompanying me to the store to get the ingredients, my dear husband informed me that puttanesca was definitely not the best thing to be making for a V-day meal; puttanesca was allegedly invented by Italian prostitutes and has different myths behind its origin. Because this is a “quick and easy” sauce, some legends claim that prostitutes at the turn of the century didn’t have time to make real tomato sauce, others say that the smell was so enticing that it was used to lure customers into the brothels. Nevertheless, I did NOT know this story before my romantic meal was planned, but suffice it to say I won’t be making puttanesca for another Valentine’s Day anytime soon.

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I used the last remaining bag of scallops from our last summer’s catch.


1 lb dried spaghetti
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 t anchovy paste (or 2 anchovies)
1/2 red pepper flakes
1/3 c olive oil
1 28-oz can whole tomatoes in juice
1/2 c pitted Kalamata olives
2 T drained capes
1 t salt
pinch of sugar (optional)
1 lb scallops


First get your pot of water to cook the noodles in ready. Next, heat a large skillet to medium high heat in which to cook the scallops. Take your scallops, and dry them as best you can. Sprinkle with S&P. Add 2-3 T oil to the skillet and wait until it is hot. Add half the scallops to the pan. Cook until browned, about 2 minutes. Turn and cook until browned on the other side, about 1 minute. Remove. Repeat with the other half of the scallops. (Note: if you dump all your scallops in the pan at the same time, your pan will loose its heat and won’t give your meat a good sear.) Remove and set aside. (At this point, add your spaghetti to your boiling water.) Using the same uncleaned and hot pan that you just cooked your scallops in, add the rest of the oil, garlic, anchovy paste, red pepper flakes, 1 t salt, 1/2 t pepper, and stir until the garlic is golden (about 2 minutes). Meanwhile, puree the tomatoes with the juice in a blender or food processor.

Next, add the tomato puree to the garlic oil. Add the olives and capers and simmer. Drain the pasta when it’s finished cooking, and add to the sauce. Add the scallops, and serve. You can top with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil if desired.

The smell is so delicious, I actually can’t promise that you won’t attract sundry folks off the streets, so do beware.


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