Sugo alla puttanesca – or “whore’s sauce” – is a savoury, spicy, lip-smacking combination of tomatoes, chilli, capers, anchovies and olives. Usually served with spaghetti, I’d choose it over a bolognese sauce any day of the week.
The Neapolitan version of puttanesca doesn’t include anchovies, so I’ve listed them as optional. I love the depth of saltiness they bring to the dish (and once they’ve cooked down, the girls are blissfully unaware they’re in there) so I usually sneak some in.
My younger daughter (loves puttanesca, hates fish) is currently reading Lemony Snickett’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events”. In the first book, the Baudelaire orphans prepare pasta puttanesca for Count Olaf and his gang. “They put anchovies in the sauce!” she informed me, “That must taste terrible – I’m glad you don’t do that.”
- 1 Tb olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 anchovy fillets, minced (optional)
- 450g tin whole tomatoes
- 1 Tb tomato purée
- 1 cup pitted black olives, sliced
- 1 red chilli, minced (or to taste)
- 1 Tb capers, drained
- salt and pepper
- 500g spaghetti
- grated parmesan and chopped parsley or basil, to serve
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium flame. Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the anchovies (if using) and cook a couple of minutes more.
- Add the tomatoes and their juice to the pan, breaking them up with a wooden spoon. Stir the tomato purée, followed by the olives, chilli and capers.
- Turn the heat to low and leave the sauce to simmer for about twenty minutes, until it is reduced and thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Meanwhile, heat a large pot of salted water and cook the spaghetti.
- Toss the drained pasta with the sauce, and top with grated parmesan and chopped basil or parsley to serve.