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Wild White Fish with Puttanesca Sauce

Welcome to my Colorado kitchen!

This series features me, Michelle — a writer and soccer mom from the Rocky Mountains — my husband and two kids, some beautiful Vital Choice seafood, and lots of regular home cooking.

(Click here to learn more about me, below.)

I want to feature the products and preparations you’re curious about.

Have a suggestion? Question? Recipe you want me to test?

Email me and help to shape this series. Born in Naples, Italy and celebrated the world over, puttanesca sauce is a very quick way to add color, tang, and a little kick to wild white fish such as cod, halibut, or rockfish.

According to a 2005 article in an Italian newspaper, the sauce was created by Sandro Petti, co-owner of Rancio Fellone, a restaurant on Ischia, an island in the Gulf of Naples.

The paper quoted Petti as saying that he created the sauce from the random ingredients left in his kitchen, to feed a group of diners who arrived late but hungry. Petti objected that he had nothing much left in the kitchen, and they replied, “make any kind of garbage”.

(Puttanesca means “in the style of a whore”, but in addition to its original meaning "whore", puttana also serves to mean something like “scraps” or "garbage”.)

While puttanesca is typically served over spaghetti or other pasta, this low-carb recipe pairs the subtle sweetness of white fish with the rich, tangy, briny, flavor of this tomato-based sauce.

Rich Cantabrian Anchovy Fillets, spicy red pepper flakes, capers, and olives combine to provide a robust base for quickly sautéed white fish. (If you're not a big fan of olives or capers, feel free to leave them out.)

The sauce only cooks for 8 minutes, so you can make the entire dish in about 20 minutes, including a bit of chopping.

The flavorful rewards of fish puttanesca contrast with its ease and speed, making it a fast but satisfying weeknight supper — or the crowd-pleasing centerpiece of a casual gathering!

My rating? 4 out of 4 stars.

A few notes for the cook
I sprang for authenticity and quality by picking famed San Marzano plum tomatoes, which generally come in 28-ounce cans, and can be found in the canned vegetable or Italian sections of most supermarkets.

Grown in volcanic soil near Naples, Italy, San Marzano tomatoes are nearly double the price of other canned plum tomatoes, but they’re worth every penny — particularly when they’re the centerpiece of a sauce!
Yield: Serves 2
Total Time: 40 min
Prep: 10 min
Cook: 30 min
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can plum tomatoes(28 ounces), San Marzano preferred
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
½ cup Kalamata olives, drained and chopped
1 tablespoon capers, drained
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1.  Drain excess liquid from the plum tomatoes and reserve. Using your hands, crush the plum tomatoes into medium-to-small pieces.
2.  Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Add shallots and sauté 2 minutes, until just beginning to soften. Add garlic and anchovies and sauté an additional two minutes until fragrant.
3.  Stir in hand-crushed tomatoes, thyme leaves, olives, capers and red pepper flakes. Add ½ cup of reserved tomato juice and simmer, uncovered, until sauce is thick and most of the liquid is gone, about 8 minutes. Season to taste with pepper and set aside (the sauce will likely not need salt, given the capers and olives).
4.  Meanwhile, pat the cod or halibut dry with a paper towel and season both sides with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a cast-iron or non-stick pan over medium heat.
5.  Cook the fish until just browned and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side.
6.  Divide the sauce between two plates, top each with a cod or halibut portion and garnish with chopped fresh Italian parsley.
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