Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

“Puttanesca” means, well, in the “style of persons exercising the oldest profession of the world” and they don’t mean the banksters. Given this colorful history, there are many stories as to the origin of this well-known pasta recipe from Napoli. Suffice to say it is a very tasty dish, easy on your pocket – a delightful variation of the traditional Spaghetti al Pomodoro. I use cherry tomatoes instead of Roma tomatoes, as they add a bit of tang to the dish.

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 15 – 20 minutes


  • 12-14 oz (340-400 g) Spaghetti, depending on the appetite
  • 5 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 salt anchovies, rinsed
  • 4 gloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 lb (450 g) ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup (70 g) black olives cured in oil, pitted
  • freshly ground pepper
  • Parmesan cheese
  • salt to taste (careful: anchovies and olives are salty on their own)
  • 8-10 basil leaves, torn or 1 Tbsp capers


Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil into a small casserole and warm the anchovy fillets at very low heat. They should melt, they must not fry (they get hard otherwise).

Add the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil into another pan, add the sliced garlic and when they begin to sizzle add the cherry tomatoes. Do not let the garlic burn. Toss the tomatoes until excess liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes. Cherry tomatoes should not cook to a puree, but rather remain chunky.

Bring a large pot filled with water to a boil. Add some salt and a few addsdrops of olive oil. Add spaghetti and cook to directions.

When the spaghetti are about ready, add olives and anchovies to the tomato sauce, grind some pepper over it, adjust salt if necessary. Drain spaghetti, add the tomato sauce and toss gently. Serve it topped with shaves of Parmesan and decorate either with fresh basil leaves or the capers.

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