Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Which got me thinking

I was watching a cooking show from Italy, featuring Spaghetti Puttanesca...which got me thinking. Would the basic components of a puttanesca work in a "salsa" configuration? After all, I'm live in the factory outlet of hyerfresh seafood and I'm sitting on 87 cubic yards of fresh, ripe tomatoes which need using ASAP as the unseasonable winter chill has wreaked havoc with our "seasonlessness."

So I came up with this:

Puttanesca Salsa
2-4 cloves garlic, sliced as thin as your patience will permit (I bought a truffle shaver on clearance just for this; garlic is a staple and truffles not so much)
12 large leaves basil, torn (not cut, tearing makes them mushy)
1 lb tomatoes, roughly chopped, retaining the liquid but jettisoning the seeds (use good canned tomatoes otherwise, the aseptic Pomi brand is especially good.)
½ c extra-virgin olive oil
1½ T capers (I like the salt-packed kind -- rinsed of salt. Either way, make sure they are drained)
¼ c tiny black olives (I like Picholines or Gaetas, anything short of cheap canned ones will work)
½ lemon, juiced (about 1½ oz juice, no need to be fanatical)
2 t sea salt
1-3 t crushed red pepper flakes (I go full-whack)
3 anchovy fillets, mashed into paste (or already in a paste, if you can find the kind made with only anchovies, salt and EVOO...Amore is my favorite brand)

OPTIONAL 1-1½ T tomato paste (I like the Italian stuff in tubes, again Amore is a good brand)

Warm half the EVOO and add the pepper and anchovy. You don't want the oil hot, just sort of at a poaching temperature. Stir until the anchovy dissolves. Let cool. In a large bowl, combine the oil mixture with the garlic, basil, tomatoes, EVOO, capers, olives, lemon juice, salt. Allow to stand in cool place for ½ hour.

Given the amount of liquid AND the salt (which'll draw out even more liquid) this might be a bit too watery for your tastes...I like to add a glob of tomato paste to balance things out. In such quantities it play along well with the other ingredients, "absorbs" any excess fluid, and doesn't overwhelm the salsa with a cooked (as opposed to raw) tomato flavor.

This goes GREAT with a hunk of grilled tuna or swordfish or even those big fat honkin' scallops you sometimes are lucky enough to get. If you live where fresh sseafood is a) not really likely, b) crazy expensive, or c) both, frozen scallops are a good choice, provided the only ingredients are scallops and salt. Scallops and shrimp, if not adulterated with "firming" or "color retention" ingredients are your very best bet in shellfish when your options are limited.

-J.

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