I’m having a lot of fun post-Ironman racing—Geoff and I are up on Vancouver Island.  I’ve managed to eat my weight in pasta, pizza and cookies. Traditionally, for 5 days after an Ironman race, my stomach is fair game for All Food Beige and Brown.  My libations seem to be the same color (coffee and beer).   I’ll be reeling it in toward the end of the week, but for now, I’m enjoying the stuff that I usually stay away from.  I’ve consumed three plates of pasta during the last 24 hours. My only workout this week consisted of riding the E-assist (electric bike) around the Valley Trail in Whistler for about an hour on Tuesday.  If massages, mineral baths, watching moto-cross and facials count, then my workout tally is considerably higher.  Kurt?  Workout feedback?

Epsom salt foot bath pre deep tissue massage at Ziva in Courtenay

Yesterday, we ate at a great restaurant in Courtenay called Atlas Cafe.  Atlas’s menu is global.  “Global” menus can be tricky. The chef must be able to finesse “fusion” over “confusion” cuisine.  I mean, who wants “Southwestern Pot Stickers with Truffled Pesto Cream Sauce Drizzle, Sweet Pea Foam and Rhubarb Gastrique” anyway?  Okay, that’s a little overkill.  I’ve never seen that item on a menu.  But I did see something close to that at a Chili’s restaurant one time (WTF was I doing at Chili’s?).  Anyhoo, Atlas gets it right.  Me being on a pasta kick, I ordered my favorite pasta of all time, Pasta Puttanesca.  Sauce Puttanesca translates to “sauce of the whores”. Cool……Hooker Sauce……I’m in.

A Rich Belgium Chocolate Soy Mocha from Hot Chocolate in Courtenay, BC. I asked for Soy but then she doused it with whipped cream. Hmmmmmmm……..

So where did this sauce, fragrant with garlic and redolent of piquant capers, briny olives and salty anchovies, get its name? There are a few tales out there.  One is that the ladies of the evening of Naples used to whip together this fragrant sauce in order to entice potential, um, paramours to their house of “ill repute” with its tantalizing smell.  Another is that, in the evenings after dinner, the properly married women of southern Italy used to throw it out their windows and onto the heads of the local “working girls” and shout “Puttana, Puttana!” at them (literally, “whore, whore”).  Finally, there is the story of an Italian restaurateur in Syracuse back in the early 60’s who was asked by some late night patrons to make a special sauce for them.  He replied that he only had “garbage” or “puttana” on hand–4 tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and anchovies.  He subsequently made the sauce and the guests loved it.  It then became a menu staple.

Pasta Puttanesca–you can replace cheese with a little bit of ground walnuts mixed with nutritional yeast.

As I mentioned a few blogs ago, I’m not a perfect vegan.  However, I think that one of the components of this classic sauce, anchovy, can be replaced with a little tamarind paste or miso in order to achieve the same umami (vegan-style) for which sauce Puttanesca is known.   You could use either one or the other but I like the flavor of both.   I’m going to be enjoying this over zucchini noodles next week and my days of inhaling carb-y, white pasta are coming to a halt.

Vegan Pasta Puttanesca Sauce

  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • ½ Medium Onion, finely diced (about ½ Cup Onion)
  • 4-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp Water or White Wine
  • 1 tsp Tamarind Paste
  • 2 tsp Red or Brown Miso Paste
  • 1 each 15 ounce Can Diced Tomatoes or 3 Cups Fresh Tomatoes, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • ¼ – ½ tsp Red Chili Flakes
  • 2 tsp Capers, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup pitted Kalamata Olives, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp Lemon Zest
  • 2 Tbsp Italian (flat leaf) Parsley, chopped
  • Freshly cracked Pepper to taste

Method

  • In large saucepan, heat olive oil
  • Add Onion and cook over medium heat just until lightly browned (about 3-5 minutes)
  • Add Garlic and cook 1 minute
  • Add Wine or Water to stop the cooking process (so that the garlic does not burn)
  • Add the rest of the ingredients except the Parsley and Black Pepper
  • Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes
  • Reduce heat to low and cook another 20 minutes
  • Remove from heat and serve over pasta or zucchini noodles

Note:  This sauce tastes better made at least a day in advance as the flavors integrate fully over that time.  It also freezes beautifully.

For everyone who raced this past Ironman this past Sunday, I hope that you are enjoying a few days of living outside the athlete box.