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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Garlic dough balls also make a nice addition, but take a little longer than this rapid pasta dish.
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.
- 20cm or 8″ saucepan.
- 30cm or 12″ frying pan.
- Stirring and serving spoons and or kitchen tongs.
- Chopping board.
- Kicthen knife.
- Weighing scales and or measuring spoons.
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
- Peel and dice the garlic cloves as finely as you can.
- Roughly chop the capers.
- 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.
- Heat a 30cm or 12" frying pan over a medium-high heat and when it is hot add the olive oil.
- Add the garlic and fry until the edges just begin to colour, this will take around 45 seconds.
- Throw in the capers and anchovies, then cook them for 60 seconds, be careful the capers will "spit".
- 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.
- Whilst the sauce is simmering finely chop the parsley.
- 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.
- Serve sprinkled with the remaining parsley.
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.