This simple pasta dish is a classic family recipe that’s been made time and time again throughout the generations. It’s a form of pasta puttanesca; puttana meaning prostitute in Italian, hence the name “Hookers’ Pasta”. This pasta is great to bring to any get together because it’s easy to throw together, contains only a few ingredients, and is an instant crowd pleaser!
I think the reason why people love Hookers’ Pasta so much is because there are no frills attached. The simple ingredients of basil, tomatoes, and olive oil really shine and you can appreciate the ingredients for what they are. It’s refreshing and light, and goes great as an accompaniment to heavy party food, like burgers or dips. I made this for a friend’s BBQ over Memorial Day Weekend, and sure enough it turned out to be a great summer food!
Growing up, Hookers’ Pasta was literally at every family get-together. Not really sure how it developed into a French Canadian family’s go-to, but as I already mentioned puttanesca was a dish that required only a few staple items, so it makes sense that lower-class Italians would whip this together. Traditionally puttanesca is made with tomatoes, basil, olives, anchovies, and capers, however this rendition is much more simplified.
Hookers’ Pasta (serves 6-10)
- 1 lb penne pasta, cooked al dente
- 75-100 leaves of basil (or about 1 big bunch)
- 2 lbs tomatoes (or 4-5 medium), chopped
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp pine nuts (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
First, cut the tomatoes into quarters and remove the seeds and “goop” from the tomatoes, to remove the excess liquid. You should try to only use the actual flesh from the tomatoes or else the sauce will be too watery. In a large mixing bowl, add the tomatoes. Rip the leaves of basil into large chunks and add to the bowl, along with the pine nuts. Add the cup of olive oil and combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste (be generous with the salt!). Refrigerate this mixture for as long as possible, preferably a couple hours, to let the flavors meld together. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Let cool slightly so the noodles aren’t hot (you may have to coat with a little bit of olive oil to prevent sticking), then add to the tomato and basil sauce. Serve chilled or at room temperature.