Eat Recipes

Eat: A Classic Italian Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Perched high on a hill overlooking the stunning Lake Como in Italy, we were lucky enough to be served this classic Spaghetti alla Puttanesca by a local Italian family. It was served with a simple buttered spinach and a glass of Italian red wine making it truly a meal to remember.

One thing that always strikes us when we visit Italy is just how the uncomplicated so many Italian pasta dishes are, just delicious, good quality ingredients cooked in a simple way. This Spaghetti alla Puttanesca was no exception.

Puttanesca was invented in Naples in the mid-20th century, and translated it roughly means ‘spaghetti in the style of prostitues’. There are numerous theories as to why it is called that, one being that it was created by prostitutes as it was quick to make between customers and the aroma was inviting to lure potential clients in off the street. Others say that is comes from the fact it has everything in it. Whatever it’s origins, it is delicious and so simple to make using ingredients many of us have to hand in the pantry.


1/2 a cup of halved, pitted green olives

1/2 a cup of halved, pitted black olives

1/4 of a cup of capers

1 clove of garlic, finely sliced and chopped

8-10 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped

1 tin of diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Handful of chopped fresh parsley

400 grams of spaghetti


Place a large pan of salted water (as salty as the sea!) on to the boil. Cook spaghetti according to packet instructions. While the spaghetti is cooking, in a large frying pan heat olive oil and add anchovies and garlic. Gently fry until garlic is just cooked through but not brown then add tomatoes and cook for a further 3-5 minutes. Add olives and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Drain spaghetti, toss through sauce and chopped parsley. Serve and enjoy!

Note that this Puttanesca version did not have red pepper flakes nor was it served with Parmesan cheese, however both are great additional options you can add. Some recipes also call for a chopped onion or a squeeze of lemon juice to enhance the flavours, all of these work well however this very simple version was one of our favourites – delicious, high quality ingredients cooked perfectly.

Love spaghetti? Click here for our recipe for Spaghetti with Buffalo Mozzarella, Asparagus and Chilli and here for Spaghetti with Cloudy Bay Clams.

9 comments on “Eat: A Classic Italian Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

  1. Lovely. Looks really tasty.

  2. Delicious.

  3. I love Italian food! This Puttanesca looks absolutely scrumptious and would love to try out your recipe (although I will have to remove the anchovies due to allergies 🙁 )

  4. Pingback: Eat: Crustless Zucchini Flan, Homemade Ravioli and a Blackberry Crostata – An Italian Cooking Course Experience in Tuscany

  5. This looks delicious! I will certainly try your recipe 🙂

  6. That looks delicious 😋

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