Pasta alla puttanesca: the spicy recipe


The name of this recipe literally means ‘spaghetti whore style’, which can both signify that the dish was a brothel favorite, or that it was originally thrown together in a haphazard manner. Italians enjoy giving dozens of different and often very circumstanced origin stories about it – all of them claiming to be ‘the original story’, of course – so there’s not much use in trying to get it straight. What is certain is that it first appeared near Napoli in the early Twentieth century. Thanks to its simplicity and strong flavor, it immediately became a classic. Our variant is the Roman one, which differs from the original version because of the inclusion of anchovies: we find they complete its taste, and this is how it is prepared by most Italians anyway.


200 g of spaghetti

10 black olives, possibly of the Gaeta cultivation

2 salted anchovies

3 ripe red tomatoes

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon of freshly chopped parsley

1 cablespoon salted capers

1 clove of garlic

1 small chili pepper

A pinch of Salt


Put the anchovies and capers in a small bowl and set them under gently flowing cold water to wash the salt off them. It will take a while, so just let the water run while you move onto the next step. Boil a small pot of unsalted water and dip the tomatoes into it for about one minute. Drain and let them cool down. This is a good time to put the cooking water for the pasta on the stove. Now drain the anchovies, open them, remove the bone and finely chop them with a knife – then chop the capers too. Pit the olives and slice them into wheels; Slice the pepper and the garlic longwise. Put the olives, capers, anchovies, pepper, garlic and olive oil in a pan over medium-heat. While these ingredients warm up, peel the tomatoes, remove their liquid and slice them into cubes. Add them to the pan as soon as the oil begins to fry. Remove the pepper, lower the flame and pour in the spaghetti (provided the water is boiling and has been salted). When the pasta is halfway done, remove the garlic from the pan. Just before draining the spaghetti add half the parsley to the sauce, then add the pasta to the sauce as well, and cook for two more minutes while stirring and mixing continuously. Garnish the serving dishes with the remaining parsley, and enjoy.



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