Puttanesca Recipe

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca (otherwise known as the dish of Italian prostitutes), is an Italian pasta dish, invented in Naples in the 1960s. It’s thought that prostitutes would make this simple dish because it was quick and cheap! It includes many cupboard ingredients, that most Italians would have at home, and can be rustled up in just a few minutes. There’s other stories that say prostitutes would make it and the fragrant smell would entice customers into their brothels. But I’ll let you decide which story you believe – maybe it’s a mix of all!

Either way, they were on to something. This dish is super tasty, and as I mentioned, super quick and easy to make. Just a few ingredients, all cooked at the same time, you can sit down to eat this hearty pasta dish in just 10 minutes.

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca Recipe

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 200g dried spaghetti
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 red chilli, diced
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1 small handful black olives, pitted
  • 2 anchovy fillets, diced
  • 1 small handful mushrooms, sliced (optional)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 small handful fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Grated Parmesan cheese and black pepper to serve


  1. Boil the kettle. Add the spaghetti to a large pan, pour over the boiling water. Add a drop of oil and cook following packet instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, drizzle olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the garlic, chilli, capers, anchovies, olives and mushrooms. Stir for 2 mins.
  3. Add the can of chopped tomatoes and tomato puree. A good splash of pasta water might also help loosen everything up. Cook for 3 – 4 mins.
  4. Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of the pasta water. Add the pasta to the sauce with half of the fresh basil. Stir thoroughly adding some of the reserved pasta water if needed.
  5. Serve in two pasta bowls, garnish with the parmesan and remaining fresh basil. Add a sprinkling of black pepper if you like too.

If you liked the sound of this, you might enjoy my other pasta recipes.

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca Recipe

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