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5 from 30 votes
spaghetti alla puttanesca
Spaghetti alla Puttanesca
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
35 mins

An easy-to-make classic Italian spaghetti recipe with strong tasty Mediterranean flavours and an interesting history!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Campania, Italian, Rome & Lazio
Keyword: anchovies, authentic Italian pasta recipe, capers, olives, puttanesca, spaghetti, spicy
Servings: 4
Author: Jacqueline De Bono
  • 400 g spaghetti (140z) I used spaghetti made by Rummo.
  • 3-4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 garlic cloves thinly sliced or finely chopped
  • 6 to 8 anchovy fillets finely chopped (Italians prefer salted anchovies but you can also use those in oil)
  • 1 tsp Peperoncino flakes or 1- 1/2 a chopped pepperoncino (Italian chilli pepper)
  • 1 tbsp capers drained and chopped. (Italians also prefer salted capers. If you use these rinse them under water before using them)
  • 100 g pitted black or green olives (3.5oz) I used taggiasca olives
  • 400 g Fresh sauce tomatoes (San Marzano or datterini) (140z) peeled, deseeded and chopped.
  • 1 handful fresh parsley leaves chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper.
  • Salt for pasta and to taste
  1. Start boiling water for the spaghetti. Add salt once it starts to boil and bring to the boil again.

  2. Meanwhile prepare the ingredients. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Peel, de-seed and chop the tomatoes. If anchovies and capers are salted rinse them under cold water. Then cut anchovies into small pieces. If they are large, remove the spine. Remove the seeds from the red chili pepper (if you are using it)  and cut into small pieces.

  3. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan large enough to hold the cooked pasta later. Add the garlic, anchovies, and red pepper flakes (peperoncino).

  4. Cook over a medium heat until garlic is very lightly golden and the anchovies have melted, about 5 minutes. (Adjust heat as necessary to keep it gently sizzling.)

  5. Add capers, a bit of parsley and olives and stir to combine.
  6. Add the peeled and chopped tomatoes, stir and bring to a bare simmer.

  7. Cook pasta to just under al dente (about 1 minute less than the package recommends).
  8. Drain pasta reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
  9. Add drained pasta to the sauce.

  10. Add a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water  and increase the heat to bring the pasta and sauce to a vigorous simmer.

  11. Cook, stirring and shaking the pan and adding more pasta water as necessary to keep sauce a little liquidy until pasta is perfectly al dente.

  12. Sprinkle with some more parsley.
  13. Season with salt and pepper as required.
  14. Serve immediately.
Recipe Notes

Although traditionally served with spaghetti, alla puttanesca can be served with other long pasta such as fettucine.
The quantity of the individual ingredients can be altered depending on one's taste. Some people prefer less olives, capers or anchovies.