Mamta's Kitchen

Spaghetti Puttanesca

Spaghetti Puttanesca

Steve Lister

My internet search shows that it is from southern Italy, probably from mid-20th century. The word Puttanesca is said to mean 'in the style of the ladies of the night'. It is supposed to be hot and red. It is a quick dish to prepare, so very convenient to throw together for unexpected guests, with limited ingredients that most people will have in their cupboard.

Serves 2


  • 250 gm. dried pasta (cook as per packed instructions)

  • 500 gm. passata (pureed tinned tomatoes) or tinned tomatoes. You can use rustic/chunky ones, if you can. The better quality tomatoes you get, the better the dish.

  • 50 gm. tin of anchovies (dry weight 30 gm.), chopped

  • 3 cloves of garlic - chopped or sliced

  • 1 medium heat red chilli - chopped

  • 2 tbsp. capers in vinegar

  • 1 tbsp. black olives (Kalamata are my favourite), stones removed and cut in half or chopped

  • 1 tsp. dried oregano

  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper

  • 10 gm. Parmigiano Reggiano (parmesan cheese), finely grated

  • Juice of half a lemon

  • Olive oil to cook

  • A small handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped

  • 150 ml. of water from the pan in which pasta was cooked.


  1. Put the pasta on to cook as per the packed instructions (about 12-15minutes in boiling water usually) but don't start the sauce until you only have 5 minutes left on the pasta.

  2. Put olive oil in a large frying and add the garlic, anchovies, chilli, capers and olives, cook out for a few minutes but don't let the garlic burn.

  3. Pour in the passata tomatoes and mix in well.

  4. Add the oregano and pepper, stir in.

  5. When the pasta is cooked lift the pasta out and place into the pan of sauce, squeeze in the juice of the half lemon and add a couple of ladles of the water from the pasta to loosen the sauce.

  6. Add the fresh parsley leaf and mix together well.

  7. Serve with a little grated Parmigiano on top.


  • Don't leave out the anchovies thinking you don't like them, they just help to make the sauce and season it.

  • Don't add salt as you will have put some in the pasta water and you add some of this to the sauce, so wait and check, remember the cheese is salty as well.

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