Recipe video above. Spaghetti alla Puttanesca is a traditional Italian pasta from Naples with a sauce based on pantry essentials. This plants it firmly in the (excellent) emergency-meals collection!You don't need much salt in Puttanesca sauce because the olives, capers and anchovies provide the seasoning. Don't skip the anchovies - sauteeing it cooks out the fishy flavour and it just dissolves in the sauce, leaving behind savoury flavour you can't get from just plain salt. You'd have to have a finely attuned palette to even know it's in the sauce!
Course: Mains, Pasta
Keyword: pasta puttanesca, puttanesca, spaghetti alla puttanesca
200g / 7ozspaghetti, or other long pasta
2tbspextra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2garlic cloves, finely minced (knife, not garlic press)
3anchovy fillets, finely minced (Note 1)
1/4cuppitted black olives, preferably in oil, quartered (Note 2)
1tbspcapers, drained (Note 3)
1/4tspchilli flakes(red pepper flakes)
400g / 14oz can crushed tomato(or hand crush whole canned tomatoes)
Prepare: Bring a large pot of water to the boil, ready for the pasta. Warm serving bowls (I microwave 1 minute).
Cook garlic: Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and cook for 15 seconds until it starts turning golden.
Cook anchovies: Add anchovies, capers, olives and chilli flakes. Cook for 1 minute.
Tomato: Add tomato, then add the 1/2 cup of water into the can. Swirl around to rinse then pour into the skillet.
Simmer: Add oregano, salt and pepper. Stir, bring to simmer, then turn down to low and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes or until the tomato has broken down and created a sauce. Turn off stove when ready if not timed with cooked pasta.
Cook pasta: Meanwhile, add 2 teaspoons salt into the pot of water. Then add pasta and cook per packet directions.
Reserve pasta water (Note 5): Just before draining, scoop out a mugful of pasta cooking water and set aside. Then drain pasta in a colander.
Toss pasta: Immediately add pasta into sauce. Add 1/4 cup of pasta cooking water reserved from previous step (Note 5) then use 2 wooden spoons to toss the pasta, still on a low stove, for 1 minute or until the sauce is no longer in the skillet but rather clinging to the pasta strands (but still slick and slippery). If the pasta gets too dry, add more pasta cooking water and toss.
Serve: Immediately transfer into warmed bowls. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with basil. Serve immediately!
1. Anchovies - An essential ingredient in an otherwise simple sauce that adds depth of flavour and salt (but so much more flavour than just plain salt!). Does not make the sauce taste fishy, it dissolves and just adds great savoury flavour. Only people with refined palettes can usually pick that it's in the sauce!Substitute with 3/4 to 1 teaspoon of anchovy paste.2. Olives - Use good ones in oil, they have better flavour than cheap ones in brine (water, no oil). It's necessary for this otherwise simple sauce because the flavour from the olives leaches into the sauce.Cutting olives - Many recipes use the olives whole. I can't figure out why - cutting releases flavour into the sauce which is key!3. Capers - Normal or baby is fine here. Sometimes the standard capers are unusually large so I opt for baby.4. Sugar - Better quality tomatoes will be sweeter and smoother. Economical ones can be quite sour, sometimes even with chunks that aren't even red! Use sugar only if needed, add with the salt (taste tomato, if super sour, use sugar).5. Pasta cooking water - The starch from cooking the pasta makes the pasta sauce thicken so it clings to every strand of pasta rather than leaving a watery pool of sauce at the bottom of your pasta bowl. Toss well and watch as the sauce magically sticks to the pasta strands!6. Basil - Lovely fresh finishing touch, but if you don't have it, just add a sprinkle pf parmesan instead. Obviously a completely different flavour, but brings something else to the dish. Don't bother with dried basil.7. Storage - Pasta is always best served immediately! As it sits around, the pasta soaks up the sauce and becomes dry. The sauce can be made ahead a couple of days. Leftovers can be reheated with a sprinkle of water to loosen.8. Nutrition per serving.