Here is a classic BIG-flavor dish that takes a short amount of time to prepare. Pasta Puttanesca, the word puttan means worthless, or throw-away (also slang for hooker) in Italian and several other languages. The dish was named puttanesca because the ingredients were all a chef had left in his pantry one night--just the leftover items from a busy day in the kitchen. I'd say he discovered a pretty terrific combination! Fresh, herbs, lots of briny olives and capers, tomatoes...what's not to love?
You could serve this as a vegetarian dish. But every time I come across a vegetarian dish, I think to myself, "You know what would be great with this...STEAK!" So here it is, New York Strips and Crispy Basil with Pasta Puttanesca. YUM!
Seared NY Strips with Crispy Basil and Pasta Puttanesca
2-4 New York strip steaks, 1- 1 ¼ inch thick
2 Tb. unsalted butter
1 Tb. olive oil
½ cup roughly chopped fresh basil
Salt and Pepper
½ lb. dried pasta, Strascinati or Orecchiette
1 Tb. olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives
2 Tb. capers
1 tsp. anchovy paste
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 dashes of crushed red pepper flakes
1- 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
¾ cup fresh arugula or spinach leaves
*Parmesan for garnish
Boil the pasta as directed on the package. Drain and set aside.
Heat two large skillets—one to high heat, and one to medium. The skillet over high heat is for the steak. Add the butter and oil to the skillet. Salt and pepper the steaks.
Drop the basil leaves into the hot butter and oil; flash fry for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Watch out—the fat will pop as the moisture is released from the basil. When the leaves look crispy, but still green, remove them with a slotted spoon and place them on a paper towel.
Next add the steaks to the skillet. Sear for 4 minutes per side, for medium-rare.
Remove from the pan and tent with foil. Let the steaks rest for 5-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, add 1 Tb. if oil to the second skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic, parsley, olives, capers, anchovy paste, oregano, and red pepper. Sauté for 3 minutes.
Then add the tomatoes and simmer another 5 minutes. Toss the pasta and arugula into the sauce. Toss until the pasta warms through. You shouldn’t need to salt this, because of the briny ingredients.
You can serve each person a whole steak, but for my family I usually just buy 2 large steaks and slice them on the bias. I fan them out next to the pasta. Serve the steaks drizzled with pan juices and topped with crispy basil leaves!
* If your steaks are thicker than 1 ½ inches, it can be hard to pan sear them perfectly. Preheat your oven to 450*. Then sear the first side for 4 minutes. Turn the steaks over and place the pan in the oven for about 6 minutes for medium-rare. This will insure you don’t have a crispy outside and raw inside!