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Puttanesca – Courtesan’s Spaghetti by Katie & Giancarlo Caldesi

From The Long & Short of Pasta (Hardie Grant), Photography by Helen Cathcart

It is said that the ladies of the night would make this quick sauce for extra energy using their store-cupboard ingredients.  However, our friend Michelina, showed us this version made with fresh cherry tomatoes rather than the canned variety.  I absolutely love the punchy, spicy flavours & cook it regularly for quick lunches.

Serves 4


3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 large garlic clove, lightly crushed

½ - 1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped

2 heaped tbsps black olives, pitted & halved

1 heaped tbsp capers, drained & rinsed if salted

6 anchovy fillets

Large handful of parsley, finely chopped

350g (12oz) cherry tomatoes, quartered

Salt, if necessary

350g (12oz) spaghetti, to serve


Make sure you have all the ingredients to hand & then cook the pasta in a large pan of well-salted boiling water.  

Heat the oil in a large frying pan & fry the garlic & chilli, followed by the olives, capers & anchovies.  Stir frequently to break up the anchovies.  

Add the parsley & stir through.  

After 2 mins, add the tomatoes.  Taste the sauce & season if necessary.  

Cook for another couple of mins.

When the pasta is ready, use tongs to lift it from the saucepan directly into the frying pan, along with a tablespoon of cooking water to lengthen the sauce.  

Serve immediately.

Variation:  use tinned tomatoes instead of fresh, & instead of the anchovies, gently stir through good-quality tinned tuna at the last minute.

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