Pasta Tuesdays: Puttanesca

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Tuesdays can really be a chore. Few more so than the Tuesday after The Electric Picnic.

I was very sensible this year and rented a cottage about 8 miles away from the festival site. Coming home to a warm cottage with duvets and tea and slippers and an actual shower and a fridge was a joy each night.

What’s worrying is that, even with all those creature comforts, I still managed to arrive home in a bit of a heap yesterday afternoon. Nothing a bit of sleep and a Pasta Tuesday couldn’t sort out however.

Another brilliant pasta dish for a Tuesday evening is the classic Spaghetti alla Puttanesca.

It was Kristin from Dinner du Jour who first brought my attention to the fact that Spaghetti alla Puttanesca roughly translates as Whore’s Style Spaghetti. Charming.

It seems the dish wasn’t given its name because it was an instant favourite of ladies of the night when it first appeared in the south of Italy in the 1960s. Instead, the name seems to be more of a statement on the kind of lazy-arse person who would whip up such a simple yet delicious dish without even having to go the market for ingredients.

A store-cupboard dish perfect for Pasta Tuesdays.

What you need for Spaghetti alla Puttanesca for 2 

The recipe below is for two people but it’s very easily doubled.

Olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 red chili, de-seeded and finely chopped

2 to 4 anchovy fillets (depending on how fishy you like your pasta), drained from the oil in their tin and finely chopped

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

Handful of black olives, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon of capers

200g of spaghetti

1 small bunch of parsley, finely chopped, to serve

Heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan. Fry the garlic for one minute, stirring constantly. Add the chili and anchovies and fry for one minute.

Add the tomatoes, olives and capers to the frying pan. Stir so everything is well mixed together. Simmer over a medium heat for 10 minutes, until the sauce has thickened.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a saucepan of salted boiling water according to the pack’s instructions.

Once the pasta has cooked, drain and return to the saucepan off the heat. Tip in the tomato sauce and mix well until the spaghetti is coated.

Serve with a sprinkling of parsley and enjoy!


An unexpected highlight of this weekend’s Electric Picnic was Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros. Follow the link to have a listen to their track Home which had everyone singing along on Friday night.

Home – Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros (via The Hype Machine)

Categories: Dinner


  1. Can I recommend a dish for your next pasta Tuesday? It’s something I had for the first time recently, in Sicily and it was delicious. I don’t even like pasta, and I loved this. Here’s a recipe- I couldn’t find the special salty ricotta, so added in pancetta also. Really worth salting and draining your aubergines beforehand also- makes them way less bitter.

    • Hey Ailbhe – lovely stuff! I will definitely keep the Pasta alla Norma in mind for next week’s dinner. Thanks a million for the recipe. I wonder who Norma was? :)

    • You can get that salted ricotta in Little Italy in Smithfield, bought some there a few weeks ago (for spaghetti alla norma as it happens); just ask the person at the cheese counter if you don’t see it out, they sometimes have it in the back. The dish is named after an opera by Bellini apparently.

      • Hey Stef, thanks for that tip! Will definitely give this recipe a go so :)

      • Can’t seem to reply to your comment directly but yeah, definitely worth finding that cheese; there’s also a really good fennel & ricotta risotto on Jamie Oliver’s website that uses it too, one of my favourite recipes of his. Also, I’m literally just after making puttanesca using your recipe for lunch five minutes ago so my turn to thank you. ;) ‘Twas lovely!

  2. I love Pasta Puttanesca. One of my all-time favourite dinners.
    It must be closing in on dinner time because your photo is making me hungry!
    Glad you had fun (and stayed warm and dry) at EP.

  3. Hi Mona – Puttanesca is really the bee’s knees. So simple and so delicious. Looking forward to dinner myself now :)

  4. Pasta puttanesca tastes better knowing what it translates as, don’t you think? ;)

  5. Hi Aoife, I’m sure you’ve mentioned it somewhere in the blog, but a quick search didn’t turn anything up – what kind of camera do you use for your photos?


    • Hi Eimear – actually I haven’t mentioned it before I don’t think. I use a Canon EOS 500D. I also use a post-editing program called Lightroom which helps me brighten up photos a bit.

      The best tip I can for taking photos of food though is taking them in natural light! Food always looks lovelier with a bit of sun shining on it. Even if it’s through a cloudy Irish sky.

      Hope that’s been of use!

  6. Pingback: Pasta Tuesday: Anchovies Are Our Friends « I Can Has Cook?

  7. That looks divine. I’m not a anchovy fan so for my pasta puttanesca I substitute diced chorizo to the sauce for an extra kick of flavour!

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