My recipe for pasta puttanesca started with this one from Nigel Slater. Then I got too lazy to look it up and just winged it. Still tasted good. Clearly, as long as you have the correct ingredients, you can kind of wing it with the quantities — to taste — and it’ll be fine.
1-2 tbsp oil
1 small tin of anchovies in oil, if you’re feeding up to four people
2 cloves garlic, bashed, peeled, and chopped (or 4, if you like garlic as much as we do)
sprinkle of chilli flakes
1 tin of chopped tomatoes, as above
A couple of sprigs of fresh basil, or a generous shake of dried
½ cup or so pitted black olives, chopped
1 tbsp or so capers, chopped
pasta of some description
Make your sauce: Heat the oil and fry the garlic, chilli flakes, and anchovies, stirring frequently until the fish breaks down. Add all the other ingredients (except the pasta) and stir to combine, then leave to simmer, partially covered, for around 30 minutes. Take it off the heat.
Bring it all together: Cook your pasta according to directions, then put the sauce back on the heat, and mix the pasta into the sauce. Serve hot.