Make Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca

Edited by Jan Margery Castillo, Lynn, Robbi, Rebecca M. and 2 others


This Italian recipe may seem difficult to prepare because the name "puttanesca" sounds very foreign, especially for newbie cooks. While it has many ingredients, this sumptuous treat is actually very easy to make. This could be your instant favorite! Read on to learn more about this delicious pasta and how to prepare it yourself.

This dish looks and tastes so rich that you are tempted from the moment the sauce begins to bubble until it is placed before you on the table.

There were many different stories about how this dish started, but the authentic story was explained by Annarita Cuomo in a 2005 edition of an Italian newspaper. This sumptuous dish started one evening in 1950s when Sandro Petti, an Ischian restaurer, was about to close his restaurant. He was short on ingredients but a group of hungry customers demanded Petti to make them a meal. They insisted and told him "Facci una puttana qualsiasi" which means "Any food will do, even something that is worthless as garbage".

Petti only had a few tomatoes, olives and capers at that time so he made a pasta sauce out of it. No one knew it would taste so perfect, but he eventually included that dish in his menu later on.

This dish often becomes an instant favorite to those who taste it for the first time. You can try it for yourself by following the recipe below:


  • 500 g (1 pound)linguine pasta (or any pasta of your choice)
  • 4 or 5 fillets of anchovy
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup (approx. 75 grams) pitted, kalamata or black olives, coarsely chopped
  • 1/8 cup (approx. 35 grams) of capers
  • 3/4 teaspoon whole (1/2 teaspoon crushed) red pepper flakes
  • 5 or 6 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons (60 ml) pasta water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese


  1. 1
    Cook your linguine pasta until al dente
    Save the pasta water for later use.
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  2. 2
    Heat a skillet pan to medium high heat
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  3. 3
    Pour in extra virgin olive oil and saute the garlic, anchovy fillets and red pepper flakes.
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  4. 4
    Stir and let it cook for 2 minutes or until the garlic turns into golden brown.
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  5. 5
    Add Cherry tomatoes and the hot pasta water to help thicken the sauce
    The pasta water will help the pasta cling to the sauce.
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  6. 6
    Let it boil for 3-5 minutes or until the tomatoes are cooked.
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  7. 7
    Add the capers, olives, and dried oregano
    Stir and let it cook for 5-10 minutes.
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  8. 8
    Sprinkle some salt and pepper to taste
    Be careful when adding salt because the anchovy fillets are already salty.
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  9. 9
    Put the fresh basil leaves and cooked pasta and toss lightly.
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  10. 10
    Transfer the Pasta Puttanesca in a serving plate and sprinkle on some shredded Parmesan
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Tips and Tricks

  • When buying anchovy fillets, choose one that is salt-packed, rinsed and patted dried. This is the best kind because the bottled anchovies are a bit bland.
  • Instead of cherry tomatoes, you may also use canned tomatoes with the juice. Italians also use it.
  • Do not add too much Parmesan cheese because the sauce has too many salty ingredients already.
  • If you want a less salty sauce, use less anchovy fillets and replace them with tuna flakes.
  • You may also add carrots if you want a chunkier sauce. Saute it with the anchovies and garlic.
  • Don't be surprised if the taste is a bit sharp, spicy and salty because that's the way it should be. Serve with Greek salad to balance the saltiness.

This recipe is good for four people and it will only take about 30 minutes of your time to prepare. Share and enjoy!

If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


Article Info

Categories : Cooking

Recent edits by: Eng, Rebecca M., Robbi

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