As people with great hosting ambitions but not-so-great culinary skills, we’re always keen here at ELLE Canada to find those unicorn dishes that present impressively but require a minimum of actual fuss to prepare. Thanks to a visit from chef David Rocco we’ve just added a new one to our repertoire: Pasta Alla Puttanesca.

Rocco, in collaboration with Barilla, stopped by our offices in honour of World Pasta Day, which despite you thinking it should be everyday, is actually marked on October 25. Along with making us this dish for lunch, he also shared the recipe (see below) and a few top tips from the man himself.

Buon appetito!

Chef David’s insider info:

1. Don’t be alarmed by the anchovies! They don’t add any kind of fishiness to the dish at all—instead, they contribute just an extra ‘something’ that you’d miss if you skipped them.

2. Buy the best olive oil you can find, and always seek out San Marzano tinned tomatoes. They’re a variety, not a brand, FYI.

3. Crush your garlic as normal, but stop there – don’t cut it up! Instead, toss it in whole, allow it flavour up the sauce and then remove it at the end.

4. Put your pasta onto boil first, and then get started adding your ingredients for the sauce to their pan. That way, it’ll time out perfectly and your pasta and sauce will both be ready at the same time.

Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca
    •    400 g spaghetti (0.8lb)
    •    1 can plum tomatoes with juices, roughly chopped
    •    4 anchovy filets, roughly chopped
    •    1 tablespoon capers
    •    12 black olives, pitted
    •    1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
    •    2 cloves garlic, crushed
    •    4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (60ml)
    •    fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped 

While your spaghetti cooks in salted boiling water, prepare your sauce.
Heat up some olive oil in a large saucepan. Add garlic and chili peppers. When garlic is golden, add anchovies, olives, capers and walnuts.
Let cook for a few seconds before pouring plum tomatoes into the pan. Cook for approximately five minutes.
About a minute and a half before the al dente stage, drain the spaghetti and add it to the saucepan, allowing it to finish cooking in the sauce. Sprinkle freshly chopped parsley and plate. Serve immediately.

Serves 4