Spaghetti alla puttanesca



There are recipes that get their flavor not only from the simple and masterly combination of ingredients, but also from the legends that go along with them, dishes like fettuccine Alfredo, spaghetti alla Nerano, pasta all’arrabiata, or the famous spaghetti alla puttanesca! The unique flavor of spaghetti alla puttanesca comes from the flavorsome sauce it’s dressed in: peeled tomatoes, Gaeta olives, capers, and anchovy fillets. And the dish is also made tastier by its unusual name: Puttanesca literally means “of, relating to, or characteristic of a prostitute,” raising questions about its origins, which are claimed by both the region of Lazio and Campania. The most salacious and imaginative stories say that it originated in brothels, as a super quick dish to prepared with just a few simple ingredients. Others point to the culinary fantasies of the legendary performer Antonio De Curtis, AKA Totò. Others still say spaghetti alla puttanesca was first eaten in Ischia at the famous Rangio Fellone restaurant in the 1950s, where it was created one night with whatever was leftover in the pantry, and the colorful name came from the fact that it was an easy dish thrown together in a quick, improvised way. From then on, it seems that it became a fixture on the restaurant’s menu and then spread beyond the island as one of the first courses of the Italian culinary tradition.

Spaghetti ¾ lb (320 g)
Peeled tomatoes 1 ¾ lb (800 g)
Anchovies in oil 1 oz (25 g)
Salted capers ⅓ oz (10 g)
Parsley 1 bunch
Gaeta olives ½ cup (100 g)
Garlic 3 cloves
Dried chili pepper 2
Extra virgin olive oil 2 ½ tbsp (30 g)
Fine salt to taste

How to prepare Spaghetti alla puttanesca

To make spaghetti alla puttanesca, first rinse the capers under running water to remove the excess salt 1, then dry them and chop them roughly with a knife 2. Take the pitted Gaeta olives and crush them by pushing down with the blade of a knife 3.

Wash, dry, and chop the parsley 4. Bring a pot of water to a boil to cook the pasta, salting it to taste once boiling. In the meantime, add the oil, whole peeled garlic cloves, chopped dried chili 5, and anchovies 6 to a large frying pan.

Then add the rinsed capers 7. Brown over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring often, so the anchovies dissolve and release all their aromas. Next, mash the peeled tomatoes slightly 8 and add them to the pan. Stir with a spoon and cook for another 10 minutes over medium heat. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti until it’s al dente 9.

Once the sauce has cooked, remove the garlic cloves 10 and add the crushed olives 11. Season the sauce with the chopped parsley 12.

When the pasta is al dente, drain it and pour directly into the pan 13, flipping it in the pan for 30 seconds, just enough time to allow all the flavors to meld together 14. Your spaghetti alla puttanesca is ready to serve piping hot 15!


We recommended eating the spaghetti alla puttanesca right away. Any leftovers can be kept in the fridge covered with plastic wrap, for one day.


Not suitable for freezing.


Spaghetti alla puttanesca is already quite a flavorful dish, so we advise against adding salt to the sauce.

When tomatoes are in season, you can make a nice fresh sauce.


Try the version with fresh cherry tomatoes, anchovies, and onion, too!