Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Many stories exist as to how and when this dish got it’s name but, regardless of it’s etymology, it has to be one of the most flavoursome pasta dishes out there (in my opinion anyway).

Chilli spiked, rich, savoury and sweet at the same time, you will never get bored of this sauce from one mouthful to the next.  And don’t turn your nose up at the anchovies.  They dissolve into the sauce and if you hadn’t been told they were in there, you’d never have known.  But it wouldn’t taste the same without them.  So don’t leave them out.  Trust me.

Although a pasta dish, the sauce is beautiful on a chicken breast, tuna steak, meatballs, pork chops etc.

Serves 6 (leftover sauce freezes and reheats well)


4 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

1 small tin of anchovy fillets in oil, chopped

2 x 400g tins of good quality chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp tomato purée

2 tsp sugar

75g pitted black olives, sliced into rounds

2 heaped tbsp capers, rinsed and patted dry

A handful of basil leaves, roughly shredded (traditionally parsley would be used, but I like to use basil)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

100g spaghetti per person (I used linguine, any pasta will do)


Heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan over a medium heat.  Add the onion and fry gently for 3 or 4 minutes.  Add the garlic, chilli and chopped anchovy fillets and cook for a few more minutes until the anchovy fillets have dissolved and the onion has softened.

Add the tomatoes, tomato purée, sugar, olives, capers and a good grind of black pepper and briefly bring too the boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.

Cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions.

Taste the sauce for seasoning, adding salt as necessary, and mix through the pasta (sauce to pasta, pasta to sauce – whichever way you like) and sprinkle with the fresh basil.  Serve in warmed bowls.


Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Enjoy!  K x


Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

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