An easy-to-make classic Italian spaghetti recipe with strong tasty Mediterranean flavours and an interesting history!
Start boiling water for the spaghetti. Add salt once it starts to boil and bring to the boil again.
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.
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).
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.)
Add the peeled and chopped tomatoes, stir and bring to a bare simmer.
Add drained pasta to the sauce.
Add a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water and increase the heat to bring the pasta and sauce to a vigorous simmer.
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.
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.