1/2 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 fresh red chilies, seeded and finely chopped or 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1 1/2 pound cherry tomatoes, halved lengthways
4 tablespoons drained and roughly chopped pitted black olives in olive oil
(Kalamata or Taggiasche)
2 tablespoons capers, drained
5 anchovies in oil, drained and roughly chopped
handful of fresh basil leaves, torn
flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottom saucepan and sauté the garlic and chili until the garlic begins to color. Stir in all the other ingredients and season with black pepper (the olives, capers and anchovies will probably make it salty enough). Allow to simmer gently on a low heat for about 10-15 minutes, until the tomatoes begin to break down. If the tomatoes are too acidic, balance with a pinch of sugar.
VARIATIONS I sometimes add a squeeze of lemon juice and grated zest for extra zing. For a version without anchovies, crumble in some feta cheese at the last minute.
Easy Tunny Puttanesca
7-8 ounces tuna in olive oil (preferably white)
splash of white wine
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
large strip of lemon zest
Proceed as above. When the garlic begins to color, add the tuna and douse with a splash of white wine. When that has evaporated, add the parsley and other ingredients as above. Add the lemon zest about 5 minutes before the end of cooking – not before, or it can turn the sauce bitter.