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Spaghetti alla puttanesca

Photo credits: rdpeyton

This pasta recipe is considered a classic, although it is fairly recent. Artusi does not mention it, and the first written referral dates from 1961. From then on, the recipe spreads quite quickly.

Puttana literally means whore, and so people have come up with interesting theories about the origin of the name: preparing the dish to lure in customers with the smell; the dish can be assembled quickly, between two clients, and so on. But just maybe, the name simply comes from another Italian word, puttanata, which translates as rubbish.

It certainly is a quick and easy recipe, with the added bonus that it can be made without any fresh ingredients.


  • 400g dried spaghetti
  • 2 cloves of garlic,
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tomatoes, diced, or a 400g can peeled tomatoes, with their juice
  • 50g anchovy fillets, without the oil
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 100g black olives


Heat the olive oil in a large pan, add the garlic and the anchovies and fry gently till the anchovies have ‘melted’. Don’t let the garlic turn brown. Add the tomatoes, bring to a boil and let simmer for 20 minutes. Add the other ingredients (capers, oregano and olives) and let simmer for another 5 minutes.

In the mean time, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, and cook the pasta al dente. Drain, and mix with the sauce. Serve immediately.

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  1. Cherine says

    This looks so good!

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