Spaghetti alla puttanesca (spaghetti with olives, tomato, anchovies and capers) – Campania
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Categories: Kids, Dairy-free, Vegetarian* leave out the anchovy, Gluten free* use gluten free pasta, Healthy, Quick and Easy
The origin of the peculiar name of this dish, whore’s spaghetti, has many sources. Many of the versions of the story centre around creating a quick dish from a few ingredients with differing reasons as to why this was necessary (i.e. a restaurant that ran out of ingredients so used whatever is available (“una puttana qualsiasi” meaning “whatever garbage is around”), a brothel inventing the dish for waiting customers, etc. Whatever the origin of the name, this dish is quick and easy to make, is healthy, is loved by young and old alike and can be made from ingredients in the cupboard. When I return to an empty fridge, this is the dish I make. It should be part of everyone’s repertoire.
Recipe type: Primo (First course)
Cuisine: Campania
Serves: 4 servings
  1. Bring to a boil 7 litres of water with 45 gms of salt added to cook the pasta in. Do not add oil to the water. Add the spaghetti to the salted water and cook according the timing on the package or to your own taste but should be al dente.
  2. Heat a saucepan over medium heat until hot, add 30 mls of olive oil and when hot add the anchovies and dried chilli flakes.
  3. Fry until fragrant and the anchovies have dissolved, 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic until it turns golden, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes, mashing them up with a spoon or masher.
  6. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Puree the sauce.
  8. Add the black olives and continue to simmer for 5 minutes.
  9. Then add the capers and turn off heat until the pasta is finished.
  10. When the pasta is ready, bring sauce to a simmer and then drain the pasta (do not rinse) and toss with the sauce. Serve with freshly cracked black pepper over the top.
Recipe by Living a Life in Colour at