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Quick Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca is a classic spicy Italian tomato pasta dish loaded with capers, olives and anchovies, my version uses tapenade.

When say quick, chopping the ingredients and getting your kit together should take no more than 10 minutes and cooking takes 10 minutes, making this an easy midweek dinner.

Close-up spaghetti alla puttanesca garnished with freshly chopped parsley.

Pasta alla Puttanesca

Just like many Italian favourites, this recipe is a relatively modern creation. Similarly to pasta carbonara, it is unknown in writing until the second half of the 20th century.

I love pasta in a tomato sauce and my take on spaghetti alla puttanesca is one among many.

I have everything from a spicy bacon and tomato pasta which is based on pasta all’ amatriciana to a really fun and delicious hotdog pasta in a tomato sauce.

I’ve even got my take on spaghetti all’assassina which is a one-pot pasta dish where the pasta is cooked almost like a risotto!

This dish is famed for its speed, in fact, the colourful name which translates to ‘prostitutes’ sauce refers to the fact that it is a meal that can be made quickly between punters.

It’s also gloriously simple, there is very little chopping, and the sauce cooks in the same amount of time as the pasta.

I omit the traditional olives and use a tapenade because I don’t cook with or eat a lot of olives. Using a jar of tapenade delivers similar flavours but with far less waste in my kitchen.

Overhead pasta puttanesca garnished with parsley served with garlic bread.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a different type of pasta?

Yes, of course, I have mentioned a few types of pasta that I like to serve this with in my serving suggestions section.

Why don’t you use olives?

I don’t like olives, not in terms of flavour but in terms of texture, as a result, I jar of olives will sit unused in my house.

Using tapenade delivers the flavours often associated with puttanesca with less waste.

Do I have to use anchovies?

No, but omitting them will move this dish a long way from being a puttanesca sauce.

Can I make this in advance?

You can make the sauce in advance and store it in a jar in the fridge. But the sauce cooks in the same amount of time as the pasta which means you gain very little.

I personally do not think that spaghetti in sauce reheats very well, as a result, I would not do that.

Spaghetti alla puttanesca being eaten with a fork.

Serving Suggestions

Your biggest serving decision here is choosing the pasta for your puttanesca sauce, I use spaghetti but it is a versatile sauce that works with many different types of pasta.

I’ve always been fond of serving this with bucatini pasta, but I’ve also served it with everything from linguine to penne and rigatoni.

When it comes to side dishes, I tend to keep it simple.

I’m a bit of a one-trick pony when it comes to sides for pasta, I adore garlic bread or cheesy garlic bread, I think it hits all of the right notes.

Garlic dough balls also make a nice addition, but take a little longer than this rapid pasta dish.

Spaghetti alla puttanesca garnished with freshly chopped parsley.

Equipment Used

I only mention brands of equipment if I think that they make a material difference to a recipe. But, if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.

  • Stovetop.
  • 20cm or 8″ saucepan.
  • 30cm or 12″ frying pan.
  • Stirring and serving spoons and or kitchen tongs.
  • Chopping board.
  • Kicthen knife.
  • Colander.
  • Weighing scales and or measuring spoons.
Quick and easy spaghetti alla puttanesca serve with garlic bread.
Yield: 2 Servings

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

My take on spaghetti alla puttanesca is loaded with capers and anchovies in a spicy tomato sauce, I add a black olive and sundried tomato tapenade rather than olives to double down on the classic flavours.


  • 200g (7oz) Spaghetti
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 35g (2 Tbsp) Capers
  • ½ Tsp Dried Chilli Flakes
  • 6 Anchovy Fillets
  • 200g (¾-1 Cup) Tomato Passata
  • 30g (1½-2 Tbsp) Olive and Sundried Tomato Tapenade
  • Pinch Sugar
  • 15g (½ Packed Cup) Fresh Chopped Parsley
  • Salt of Boiling the Pasta


  1. Peel and dice the garlic cloves as finely as you can.
  2. Roughly chop the capers.
  3. Bring a 20cm or 8" pan of well-salted water (1½ teaspoons in a pan this size) to a boil, then add the spaghetti and cook it until it is al dente, this should take 8-9 minutes.
  4. Heat a 30cm or 12" frying pan over a medium-high heat and when it is hot add the olive oil.
  5. Add the garlic and fry until the edges just begin to colour, this will take around 45 seconds.
  6. Throw in the capers and anchovies, then cook them for 60 seconds, be careful the capers will "spit".
  7. Sprinkle over the chilli flakes, stir them into the oil, then pour in the tomato passata, add the tapenade a pinch of sugar, stir and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer gently until the pasta is cooked.
  8. Whilst the sauce is simmering finely chop the parsley.
  9. Drain the pasta reserving around 75ml (⅓ Cup) of the cooking water and add the pasta and most of the parsley to the tomato sauce, give everything a stir and add as much of the cooking liquid as needed to form a nice sauce.
  10. Serve sprinkled with the remaining parsley.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 649Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 976mgCarbohydrates: 82gFiber: 6gSugar: 6gProtein: 19g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!


Friday 8th of May 2020

I've been looking for a recipe like this forever. Can't wait to try it. Makes me hungry just reading it!

Brian Jones

Saturday 9th of May 2020

Enjoy Pat :)


Friday 2nd of August 2019

Thanks Brian, this is a very good and easy meal. We loved it..???

Brian Jones

Saturday 3rd of August 2019

Glad to hear it :)


Thursday 1st of August 2019

That was a great dish , loved it . More pasta dishes please ?

Brian Jones

Friday 2nd of August 2019

You are in for a treat as I have a real good one heading your way Monday, I like this one a lot ;)

Brian Jones

Wednesday 24th of July 2019

Thanks, enjoy

Brian Jones

Wednesday 24th of July 2019

Me too!

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