Not long ago, when I published a post featuring Ocean Brand™ Puttanesca Sauce, I promised that I would be following up with my own version of a Puttanesca pasta dish. That post is still in the offing but, in the meantime, I had the opportunity to try a variety at the Café Mezzaluna in Ottawa and I thought I would share it with you here. Typically, a Puttanesca sauce is served over spaghetti, or other pasta, but there is no reason why it can’t be used elsewhere and, at Mezzalune, they served their version over thinly sliced veal. It was a pretty good idea, I thought, but it was, to my mind, not terribly well executed.
One curious feature of the dish was the absence of black olives. Olives and capers are both typically used but, if one is to be omitted, it is almost invariably the capers. The rich flavor of olive is, I feel, integral to the final result and the lack here was a real disappointment.
The veal was nicely cooked but it had a curious flavor a bit reminiscent of the aroma of freshly cured leather. I couldn’t place this, at first, but then I realized it was the anchovy. Anchovy paste, or mashed fillets, are standard in the preparation of a Puttanesca sauce (and many other Italian dishes), but usually the flavor only operates in the background without giving the final dish any sort of ‘fishy’ taste. In this case, it was quite pronounced and I can’t say I like it over much.
My last criticism was the acidity of the dish. I think fresh tomatoes were used and the result was a sauce that was very thin, brittle and sharp. It lacked the richness and rounded quality of a tomato sauce that has been cooked down for a longer period. I will be mindful of this, and the other mentioned criticisms, when I prepare my version shortly. I’ll share the result with you in due course…