I am so in love with this recipe for low-carb Chicken alla Puttanesca. It ticks all the boxes for me – wonderfully tasty, easy to make, beautiful to look at and healthy to boot. Puttanesca sauce is usually served with spaghetti of course and it is simply amazing with pasta but since I am not currently eating pasta I thought about serving it with courgetti (i.e. no-carb courgette/zucchini noodles). But although the combination is great, it wasn’t substantial enough to keep my belly happy… and so I added chicken breasts. Normally skinless chicken breasts are pretty insipid (unless you add lots of cream, garlic and wine that is… sigh) but this sauce is so punchy with flavour that it transforms them into quite the taste sensation.
Please don’t be put off by the anchovy paste in the recipe – it simply adds a lovely salty edge to the dish. On the other hand if you love anchovies feel free to add some fillets, either whole or diced. The cherry tomatoes are optional but the look so pretty still on the vine and they burst with salty-sweetness on the tongue when cooked. I could go on and on about how tasty this is but I think you should try it for yourselves!
salt and pepper to season the chicken
4 large skinless chicken breasts
2 onions, peeled and diced
3 garlic cloves, smashed (or chopped)
1 tbsp anchovy paste (or you can use anchovy fillets)
1x400g | 14oz can chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
3 bunches cherry tomatoes, on the vine (optional)
3 tbsp black pitted olives
3 tbsp mini capers
1 tbsp large capers (optional)
pinch ground cinnamon
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp crushed chillies
olive oil to fry
splash sweet vermouth (optional)
1. Pat the chicken breasts dry with kitchen towel and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large pan and then sear the chicken breasts on both sides until nicely coloured. Set aside.
2. Add a small splash of vermouth (or water) to the hot pan to deglaze – scrape any bits of chicken that may have stuck on the bottom. Lower the heat and add the garlic, anchovy paste and chopped onions. Cook until the onions are translucent and soft – 5-10 minutes.
3. Turn the heat up and add the chopped tomatoes and a pinch cinnamon. Fill the empty can with water and add to the pan. Stir in the the olives and capers and bring to the boil.
4. Lower the heat to a simmer and add the chicken breasts into the pan. Nestle the cherry tomatoes on the vine among them. Sprinkle with the crushed chillies.
5. Cover, and cook for 20 minutes. Take the lid off and cook for a further 10 minutes or until the chicken breasts are thoroughly cooked and sauce is slightly thickened.
6. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve either with spaghetti (toss them in with the sauce) or with courgette (zucchini) noodles.
Notes: Add a little sugar if the tomatoes are not very sweet. Add a little lemon juice to the sauce if you prefer it sharper. The courgette noodles don’t need any cooking – they will soften once covered with the hot sauce.