Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Updated: Jun 22, 2020

This hearty spaghetti dish is as spicy and rich as its origins.

Said to have originated in the brothels of the Spanish Quarters ‘Puttana’ meaning whore in Italian. The simple and long lasting dried, brined and oiled ingredients would have been easy for a lady of the night to throw together in the evening to create a delicious simple dish.

This is very much a regular visitor to our kitchen table due to its ease and amazing flavour. You can adjust the spiciness of the dish to your own taste but a little chilli kick is essential.

Here's how..........

Serves 4-6 people


75g anchovies in olive oil

200g black olives halved

2 fat garlic cloves crushed

1 glass red wine

50g capers

½ tin chopped tomatoes

200g halved Pomodoro or cherry tomatoes

1 red onion diced

1 red chilli finely chopped

1 tsp dried chilli flakes

2 heaped tsp dried oregano

1 red pointed pepper

Large handful basil

Good slug olive oil

500g dried spaghetti or linguine


Put a good glug of olive oil in a large pan (big enough to accommodate cooked spaghetti afterwards) gently sauté garlic, chilli flakes diced chilli and onion, add peppers and continue to cook.

Add red wine and reduce, then add anchovies capers tomato paste and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Add all tomatoes and simmer until thickened.

Add olives and capers and set aside.

Cook spaghetti or linguine in a large pot of salted water, usually takes 10-12 minutes.

Add spaghetti to the sauce and toss through, you can add a spoonful of salted pasta water if the sauce needs loosening.

Sprinkle through with torn basil or more traditionally parsley and enjoy.

I quite like a good grating of parmesan (not usually done with Italian dishes containing fish) but hey ho… it tastes good!

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