I’ll be honest: in the past I’ve not been a huge fan of tomatoey pasta. I never thought there was anything wrong with it exactly, it just always seemed a bit unexciting. Why have tomato sauce when you could have a zingy pesto or creamy cheese sauce instead?
Well, I guess I’m a convert now. Turns out spaghetti alls puttanesca is just as tasty as any creamy sauce I could ever dream up. I don’t know what it is that sets it apart from the usual boring tomatoey pasta – maybe the salty capers and black olives, or the slight heat you get from the chilli – but whatever it is, it’s pretty incredible. After I finished cooking I was intending to just try one mouthful before setting it aside for later (one of the hazards of being a food blogger – I never actually cook at the time I want to eat), but I ended up going back for about six more.
If you didn’t already know, puttanesca means whore in Italian… but since this is a family-friendly blog, let’s stick with puttanesca. It sounds much fancier anyway.
As with most classic dishes like this, recipes vary, so I suppose this is just my version. It often includes anchovies, but obviously I left those out (the whole vegetarian thing and all), and it still had that lovely salty tang from the olives and capers. In fact this version is actually entirely vegan, which pleases me quite a lot. As you know, I’m not a vegan, but I do enjoy branching out into vegan recipes every now and then.
One of my favourite things about this recipe is that it only uses store-cupboard ingredients – stuff that you’ll probably have in the house anyway. I always have pasta, onions, garlic and chopped tomatoes in the cupboard, and there’s usually a half-used jar of olives and capers in the fridge. Easy peasy.
(by the way: yes, I do make pasta sauce in a wok. It’s not exactly authentic but it sure is practical)
Spaghetti alla puttanesca
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 onion thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 mild red chilli finely chopped
- 400 g tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 120 g spaghetti
- ~15 black olives
- 1 tbsp capers
- 3 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
- Black pepper
- Heat the oil in a large pan, and add the onion, garlic and chilli. Cook over a medium-low heat for a few minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato purée, and bring to a gentle simmer. Leave to cook, stirring occasionally, while you boil the pasta until al dente.
- Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce, along with the olives, capers, parsley and plenty of black pepper. Toss the pasta in the sauce, and cook for a couple more minutes to allow the olives to heat up. Serve topped with more fresh parsley if desired.
Are you a fan of simple spaghetti recipes? Try my brown butter lemon and walnut pasta:
PS: Remember you can get 25% off the Sian’s Plan meal planning service when you use the code AMB25! There are now several of my very own recipes available on Sian’s Plan, ready to be added to your weekly meal plans! Just click the banner below.