It sounds more than a little weird. But stick with me for a while. Spaghetti Puttanesca was one of the earliest non-Bolognese pasta recipes that I started to order when dining out, thinking it was so much more sophisticated than say, meat sauce. It was only later that I found out that Puttanesca was pretty low brow food as well… :) Many decades later, I read something that suggested that brined paho were a good substitute for olives, and that some folks used them in pasta sauces such as puttanesca. I was sceptical, to say the least, but I figured, don’t knock it till you try it…
For this dish, I substituted sliced paho for olives, spicy tawilis in olive oil for the anchovies and dried siling labuyo for the dried chili flakes. I also threw in some homemade semi-dried tomatoes. In some olive oil saute garlic and onions, then add the tawilis and the siling labuyo and saute for a minute or two. Add in the tomatoes or fresh tomato sauce, the capers, paho, and semi-dried tomatoes. Let this simmer for 5-10 minutes until the sauce is thickened and not watery. Season with salt and pepper and add a little more olive oil if necessary.
Cook some spaghetti or penne (I used whole wheat penne) and add to the sauce and sprinkle with chopped basil and/or Italian parsley. Serve with some grated parmesan cheese.
The resulting pasta was pretty good. The paho didn’t seem totally out of place but I found that the tawilis wasn’t as sharply flavored as the anchovies in the original recipe. It’s nice to know some of these substitutions can work, but I think I prefer the original recipe better… :)