I've always loved the Puttanesca made by our local family run Italian restaurant, Filiberto's. Its amazingly rich and luscious, but Mamma (thats what everyone calls her) wont share her family recipe with anyone, not even the staff. So I set about a multi-year long journey to try and reproduce Momma's Puttanesca. I totally failed. But in the end I came up with something I like just as much. Its spicy, rich and packed with a ton of veggies. —turbo
Onion Slicing Note: slice the onions as absolutely thin as possible. Like translucent thin! If they are this thin, the onion will melt into the sauce as it cooks.
Heat 3-5 tablespoons of good olive oil in big pan over Med-High
Toss in chili flakes and anchovies. Fry for a bit, stirring with a spoon or silicone spatula until anchovies fully melt into oil. Be careful to not burn the chili flakes (icky). If you really like an anchovy taste in your Puttanesca add a teaspoon or two of the oil the anchovies came in.
Add garlic and cook until just starts to turn color
Add in bell pepper and onion and cook until onions start to turn translucent
Turn heat down to Medium
Add in olives, capers, mushrooms, and zucchini and cook for a bit to soften
Add in crushed tomatoes and Italian seasoning
Simmer sauce for 20 min over medium heat, or if you have the time, several hours over low heat until sauce reduces and is thick and saucy. Every now and then taste and add salt and/or sugar to season
Vegetarian alternative: if you are vegetarian or just don't like anchovies, try this. Skip the anchovies and instead add a 1 inch rind of a parmesan cheese wedge at the same time you pour in the crushed tomatoes. Carefully pull rind out once sauce is finished cooking. The parmesan will add an amazing richness to the sauce!
Vegan alternative: just don't add anchovies or parmesan. It won't be as rich, but you're probably used to that by now