Sicilian Puttanesca with Almond Breadcrumbs
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- ¼ cup sliced almonds
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- 6 good quality anchovy filets
- 1 fresh red chili pepper, such as Fresno or hot Italian cherry, seeded and finely chopped
- 4 large cloves garlic, very thinly sliced or chopped
- 4 to 5 beefsteak tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or one 28-ounce can Italian whole, peeled tomatoes, sliced with juices)
- A few tablespoons capote capers, drained
- ½ cup oil-cured olives, pitted and chopped (a couple of handfuls)
- A few leaves of basil, torn
- A handful of flat-leaf parsley tops, chopped
- 1 pound spaghetti
Toast the almonds in a small pan over medium heat. Let cool then add to a food processor. Process into very fine chop. Heat half the EVOO, 3 turns of the pan, in the same small skillet, add breadcrumbs and toast until fragrant. Combine with almonds and reserve.
Bring a pot of water to a boil for pasta.
Heat the remaining EVOO, 3 turns of the pan, over medium heat. Melt the anchovies into the oil then add chili and garlic, and stir another minute or 2. Add tomatoes, capers and olives, and cook sauce until tomatoes break down, 8-10 minutes. Wilt in a few leaves of torn fresh basil the last few minutes the sauce is on stove.
While the sauce cooks, salt water and cook pasta to al dente. Reserve a cup of starchy liquid before draining. Drain pasta and add to sauce. Use the starchy liquid to incorporate the sauce with pasta a splash at a time -- use only as much as you need to combine.
Serve pasta in shallow bowls topped with parsley and the almond breadcrumbs.