This recipe is inspired by puttanesca sauce, which, according to many sources, was a dish that Neapolitan prostitutes in the mid-20thcentury served to their customers. Is that true or just legend? I have no idea, but I know it’s not that backstory that would tempt me to make the sauce. I prefer to emphasize all of its zesty, bold, and briny elements. Serve the sauce with pasta; spoon some sauce into a baking dish, nestle cod or halibut fillets in it, and bake; or grill pita or other flat bread and top it with the sauce.
You can customize the sauce as you like. I can’t handle more than a modicum of chile heat, so I’ve been cautious here. But if you can stand the fire, add more chile than the recipe calls for. If you like tangy flavors, add more olives, and for more salt and umami, increase the amount of anchovies. About those anchovies: Please don’t skip them unless you’re a vegetarian. They add so much to this — and any — dish.
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