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Pasta Puttanesca: the classic, tasty Italian pasta recipe for spaghetti alla puttanesca

Total time: 20 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 4 people
By Cookist

Pasta puttanesca, or pasta alla puttanesca, is a savory, typical main dish of the Southern Italian tradition. Among the most flavorful and popular recipes, spaghetti alla puttanesca owes its success to the unique taste of the fragrant, salty sauce that seasons the pasta. You only need few and simple ingredients like peeled tomatoes, black olives, capers, garlic, and anchovy fillets in oil.

Pasta puttanesca is a popular and flavorful recipe with a distinctive name. The Italian term puttanesca literally means "in the style of a prostitute" because of the pungent flavor of the savory sauce made of garlic, anchovies, capers and olives.

It is an easy to make recipe, which is made in just a few minutes. Simply cook the peeled tomatoes in a base of oil, garlic and anchovies, then, as soon as the sauce is well dried, add desalted capers and black olives. Puttanesca sauce is a quick recipe packed with Mediterranean flavors you can enjoy for a dinner with family and friends.

Pasta Puttanesca Origins

Pasta puttanesca is an Italian pasta recipe from Naples whose origins are still uncertain. Some say spaghetti alla puttanesca originated in brothels because of the name. Others say the recipe was first made in Ischia's famous Rangio Fellone restaurant around the 1950's with the pantry leftovers. In this case, the Italian term puttanesca would refer to an improvised and fast recipe.

Can you make Spaghetti Puttanesca without Anchovies?

Traditional Italian pasta puttanesca is made with tomatoes, garlic, black olives and anchovies, yes. Although anchovies are one of the main ingredients in the recipe, they won't make your sauce fishy but savory as they will flake off and blend perfectly with the tomato sauce.

To make a perfect, salty pasta alla puttanesca it is best to use about 5-6 fillets of anchovies in oil, so all flavors will be balanced.

If you don't like anchovies, you can leave them out and make this recipe vegetarian. Anyway, you will not make the classic recipe.


What to serve with Pasta Puttanesca

You can serve pasta puttanesca with bread or a tossed salad.

Tips for making Italian Pasta alla Puttanesca

For a even more flavorful recipe, you can make a tuna puttanesca by adding canned tuna to this recipe.

Instead of spaghetti you can also use another long pasta shape.

You can substitute the peeled tomatoes with a tomato sauce.

You can garnish pasta alla puttanesca with oregano or chopped parsley before serving.

Since anchovies, capers and olives are quite savory, it is best to taste the sauce first and then add salt if necessary.

How to store Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Spaghetti alla puttanesca should be enjoyed hot. Anyway, you can make the seasoning in advance and store it in the refrigerator, in a special airtight container, for a maximum of 1-2 days. Make the pasta before serving.

320 g
tomatoes, peeled
400 g
Black olives
100 g
Salted capers
20 g
Anchovies in oil
6 fillets
2 cloves
Chili pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

How to make Pasta Puttanesca

Bring plenty of salted water to a boil.

Pour a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil into a pan and add the anchovies.

Add the garlic cloves.

Season with the chili pepper and cook until the anchovies have melted.

Now add the peeled tomatoes.

Add the desalted capers and cook for about ten minutes, or in any case until the sauce is well reduced.

Add the black olives and let flavor for a few more moments. Season with a pinch of salt.

Boil the pasta in boiling water and cook for the time indicated on the package.

Drain the spaghetti al dente.

Pour the spaghetti into the pan with the sauce and stir over a high flame.

Serve and enjoy!

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