Italian Spaghetti Puttanesca

Spaghetti Puttanesca

Aphrodisiacs are a myth – pasta is the true food of love. This classic sauce requires no introduction and is one of my favourite tomato-based sauces.

It’s simple to relatively inexpensive, using up store cupboard basics. Like most things (in particular Italian food), this dish can be truly special with good quality ingredients. If you can, use big black olives such as Kalamata with the stones still in for two reasons: they are extra delicious and fun to squeeze between two fingers when extracting the stone. Whole plum tomatoes always beat watery chopped tomatoes too in the flavour department so I urge you to start cooking with them if you don’t already.

As for the type of spaghetti you choose, you may already have a favourite; D Cecco and Barilla are my go-to higher quality dries pasta brands as they are reasonably well priced but still excellent. It’s all about the texture when it comes to good quality pasta, cheaper types have a smoother surface which means your sauce slides right off instead of really coating and clinging to each strand. Of course, if your serving a pan of this as a family meal to small children then the extra investment may not be worth it but if you’re serving this for a date night then I’d say go all out!

Spaghetti Puttanesca

Spaghetti Puttanesca

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Course: DinnerCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time



Like most things (in particular Italian food), this dish can be truly special with good quality ingredients.


  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin olive oil

  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced razor-thin

  • 1 red chilli, chopped (deseeded for less heat)

  • 5 anchovy fillets

  • 2 tbsp capers

  • Handful black olives such as Kalamata with stones in (around 50-80g)

  • 400 g tin best quality plum tomatoes

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar

  • 1 bunch of basil

  • 160 g best quality spaghetti such De Cecco or Barilla

  • Sea salt


  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the garlic before the oil gets too hot. Cook the garlic for a couple of minutes and then add the red chilli, anchovy fillets, capers and olives (squeezing them between your fingers as you do so to extract the stone.) Cook for a further 2 minutes, squishing the anchovies with the back of a wooden spoon and stirring occasionally.
  • Add the tinned tomatoes and bay leaf and bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and developed in flavour. Taste for seasoning then add the balsamic vinegar and sea salt accordingly.
  • Now that your pasta water has reached boiling point, add the pasta and cook according to packet instructions. When the pasta is a minute away from being cooked, drain it and add it straight to the sauce pan. Reserve the pasta water.
  • Toss the pasta though the sauce and cook for a further minute. Add the starchy pasta water to loosen ever-so-slightly. Roughly tear the basil through the spaghetti and sauce then serve immediately.

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