Canned tomatoes and anchovies, jarred capers and briny kalamata olives almost always form the base of the sauce, which then gets a sprinkling of dry spices, such as oregano and crushed red pepper flakes, or maybe basil. Most often, I add fresh onion or shallot and garlic, but I’ve even used dried minced onion and garlic in a pinch. If all I have is pimento-stuffed green olives, I’ve tossed those in there in place of the kalamata. No anchovies? I’ve used sardines.
The one-pot sauce is cheap, fast and delivers big flavor. How many dishes you can say that about?
Usually, I toss it together in about 15 minutes, heat it up and spoon it over spaghetti. This recipe for Halibut Puttanesca from America’s Test Kitchen reminded me that the sauce can do so much more. After making this, I’ve started using it as a base to cook other proteins.
I enjoyed it with the halibut, as suggested here, but any white flaky fish will do, including snapper or mahi mahi. America’s Test Kitchen recommends swordfish. I’ve tried it with shrimp, too. Delicious.
America’s Test Kitchen suggests making the sauce in an ovenproof skillet, nestling the fish in the sauce and then popping the pan into the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes — just until the fish is cooked through and flaky.
That’s all it takes for this big-shouldered sauce, with its murky origin story, to quickly add lots of flavor to any mild protein. This then also allows me to eat it with or without pasta.
If you’ve got it handy, sprinkle the platter with parsley leaves to add freshness and brightness.
Storage Notes: Refrigerate for up to 2 days.
- 4 (4- to 6-ounce) skinless halibut fillets, 1-inch-thick
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
- 1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 shallot (about 2 ounces), minced
- 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 (2-ounce) can anchovies in oil, drained and chopped
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup (about 20) pitted whole kalamata olives
- 1/4 cup capers, rinsed
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves (optional)
Position the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Sprinkle the halibut with salt and pepper.
In a large, oven-safe, nonstick skillet, combine the oil, shallot, garlic, anchovies, oregano and pepper flakes, if using. Set the skillet over medium-low heat and cook, stirring, until the shallot begins to soften, about 4 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes and their juice, olives and capers, then nestle the halibut into the sauce. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the sauce to a simmer.
Transfer the uncovered skillet to the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the fish flakes apart when gently prodded with a paring knife and registers 130 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
Using a spatula, transfer the halibut to a serving platter. Stir the sauce to recombine, then spoon it over the halibut. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve, family-style.
Per serving (1 filet and 1/4 cup sauce)
Calories: 342; Total Fat: 21 g; Saturated Fat: 3 g; Cholesterol: 65 mg; Sodium: 1118 mg; Carbohydrates: 10 g; Dietary Fiber: 2 g; Sugar: 4 g; Protein: 26 g
This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.