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Spaghetti with Puttanesca Sauce

About as Italian as it gets

30 Jan 2016 15 minutes 4


Puttanesca sauce is about as tasty as they come. Legend has it the sauce was whipped up by Neapolitan harlots to lure men into their establishments late at night, but a more conventional explanation is that it was created using only store cupboard ingredients.

Whatever its origins, the result is spectacular. Mine uses store cupboard ingredients, but with the addition of fresh, ripe tomatoes as they impart so much more flavour.

It’s quick to prepare, absolutely delicious and should become a regular in your culinary repertoire.


1 red chilli, halved, deseeded and finely sliced
1 onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thinly
4 anchovy fillets (optional)
100 grams pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon capers
400 grams ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
400 grams spaghetti

 To serve
Parmesan cheese for grating
a handful of roughly chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley

Serves 4


Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil for the pasta.

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan on medium heat. Add the chilli, onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook for 6-7 minutes until softened. Add the anchovies (if using) and stir for 1 minute until they have broken up and begin to dissolve. Add the olives, oregano, capers and tomatoes and cook for 7-8 minutes until the tomatoes have broken down into a rough sauce-like consistency.

While the sauce simmers away, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente.

Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and toss until fully coated. Loosen the sauce with some pasta water if needed and then serve immediately topped with grated Parmesan and Italian flat-leaf parsley.