Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This racy, earthy dish is a specialty of raucous, colorful Naples. There are (perhaps aptly) hot and cold versions of spaghetti alta puttanesca. Here is the hot.


Cooking Methodsauteeing



Total Timeunder 1 hour

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free


Moodblue, tired

Taste and Texturehot & spicy, savory, sharp, spiced, umami

Type of Dishpasta


  • 1 can (28 ounces) plum tomatoes in their own juice, or crushed plum tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
  • 3 large cloves garlic, cut into pieces
  • 1 small red or yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano or 1 teaspoon fresh oregano
  • 3 anchovy fillets (the variety packed in olive oil), cut up
  • 3 tablespoons sharp-flavored black olives (such as Gaeta, Nicoise, or Kalamata) sliced off the pit
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • salt to taste, plus 1½ tablespoons salt, for cooking pasta
  • 1 pound spaghetti


Separate tomatoes from their juice. Remove excess seeds from tomatoes but do not rinse them (flavor will be lost with rinsing). Chop tomatoes. Strain juice to remove seeds. Set both aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, combine oil, garlic, bell pepper, parsley, and oregano, and sauté until vegetables are soft. Add anchovies and stir. Add chopped tomatoes and strained juice, olives, red pepper flakes, and capers. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add salt to taste.

To cook the pasta, bring 4 to 5 quarts water to a rolling boil and add the 1½ tablespoons salt and pasta. Stir, and continue to stir frequently to prevent pasta from sticking together. Taste pasta after 8 minutes; it should be cooked thoroughly but still be firm to the bite (al dente), If necessary, continue cooking. If in doubt, drain immediately—pasta will continue to cook while it is hot. Take care not to overdrain; pasta should be piping hot and still dripping when it is transferred to a serving bowl. Have a large, heated bowl waiting with sauce in it. Combine pasta and sauce. Serve immediately. No grated cheese is required. It would interfere with the other strong flavors in the sauce.



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