Let me to introduce you to the arabesque cousin of Pasta Puttanesca -Italian for ‘in the style of prostitutes’- said cousin is the Arabesque Pasta Sharmatesca, pronounced with an Italian accent, to sound classier.
The pasta sharmatesca differs to the pasta puttanesca with the addition of makdous which is pickled aubergines stuffed with walnuts and chilli. It’s not entirely a substitute for the capers, which you could do though. I used anchovies that had been preserved with anchovies so it was rather subtle and allowed the makdous to shine. Something to keep in mind. If I had some Jameed (desert pecorino) on hand, I’d have grated that on too but of course Parmesan is definitely where it’s at.
Alf soha and peace be upon all pastas of the night!
250g spaghetti or linguini
4-5 slithers of anchovies in their oil
1 clove of garlic, very thinly sliced
a generous handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
a handful of black wrinkly olives, pitted and roughly chopped
1-2 tsp of sun-dried tomato tapenade (if in Lebanon use Zejd)
1 tsp of tomato paste
1 pinch of white pepper
1 knob of butter
2 tbsp of olive oil
5-6 baby aubergine makdous (recipe in The Jewelled Table), sliced
a handful of fresh fury za’atar leaves (or oregano)
Pecorino, to grate
Bring a pot filled halfway with salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to packet instructions less a few minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, combine the anchovies and their oil (or make sure it’s about 3-4 tbsp of olive oil) and garlic. Cook over medium to low heat until garlic is ever so slightly golden, about 2-3 minutes.
Next add the tomatoes, stir to combine, and leave them a few minutes to blister before adding the olives, pasta water, the tapenade and tomato paste and white pepper. Stir and bring to gentle simmer then add to the sauce two ladles of the pasta water. Increase the heat to high and bring the sauce to a rolling simmer, stirring often for about 1-2 minutes.
Meanwhile, check on the pasta. It should be almost ready and now slightly al dente. Using tongs, transfer pasta to sauce. Alternatively, drain pasta through a colander and add it to the sauce.
Add the olive oil, butter, makdous and oregano, toss to combine and adjust seasoning. Note many of the ingredients are already quite salty to start with so do not add salt without first tasting. Season with freshly ground pepper and serve immediately with grated pecorina at the table.