Mother-in-law Tongues a la Puttanesca

by | Jul 19, 2017 | Blog, Food and Cooking, From the Kitchen, Wednesday's Recipe for Saturday's Dinner | 0 comments

There is a little tongue-in-cheek undertone to this wonderfully delightful pasta dish.  While visiting Italy, Chip and I were told the story of this wonderful dish. Puttanesca Sauce was so named for the ‘ladies of the evening’ or puttanas that greeted the sailors who came into the Port of Naples.  After entertaining these fine sailors, they would cook for them incorporating the foods they grew or could obtain locally: olives, tomatoes, capers, anchovies, garlic and spices.

For fun, view the clip from Moonstruck and see Cosmo refer to this term and not “having his daughter look like a puttana.”  Now let’s get cooking.

What you need:

  • Pasta- your choice. Use 8 ounces to a pound depending on the number of guests.  I used a pasta called Mother-in-Law Tongues.  They are multi colored and ribbon like, and I love the reference.  You can use any pasta and more traditionally a tube type pasta is used.
  • Olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic- minced or if you like, you can thinly slice them.
  • Fresh chopped tomatoes or chopped tomatoes already prepared. I love Pomi in the carton, instead of canned tomatoes.
  • Anchovies flat or rolled in a can- dice them up into small pieces. You can also use anchovy paste.
  • Kalamata Olives sliced or slivered
  • Capers, not in salt. Drain them before adding.
  • Salt & pepper
  • A pinch of crushed red pepper or my favorite spice: ariosto Aglio e Peperoncino.
  • Fresh basil and thyme


  • 4-6 scallops
  • 6-8 jumbo shrimp
  • 8 ounces of chicken, breast or thigh.

Note: just toss these in a Ziploc bag with olive oil and salt & pepper prior to grilling.

What to do:

  • If you are adding the seafood or chicken, heat your grill and cook them over a slow to medium heat.  Hold aside.
  • Fill a good-sized pot with cool water and add a smidgen of salt. Bring to a boil. Add the pasta you chose and cook to al dente.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium heat add a swirl or two of olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté until it is ‘hopping’.
  • Now add the tomatoes and let it simmer for a few minutes. Slowly add the remaining ingredients, except for the fresh herbs.   Let this just simmer as the pasta is cooking.
  • Taste it as you go!  You can add more of anything to taste.  It’s yours to make.
  • Now marry them.  Drain the pasta and add to a large pasta serving dish.  Pour the sauce over the pasta and top with the seafood/chicken.  To complete it, add the fresh basil and thyme.  If you really need cheese, Parmesan only please.  Anything else has too much bite for this beautiful sauce.

Serve with a crusty Tuscan loaf of bread for a carb overload.
Buon appetito!

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About Me

KarenHello and welcome.
I am often asked, “What is Pasta on the Floor?”
Pasta on the Floor is different for everyone. It is a recipe that tells a story and inspires them to try something new. For others, stories of family, joy, loss, and hope engage with them. This brings me a great deal of happiness. I do not take myself too seriously, so be forewarned the subject matter is open and truthful. In many ways, Pasta is a tale of life, and I think you will find familiarity and commonality as you scroll through these pages.

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