Pasta Puttanesca

Pasta Puttanesca

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“Whore’s pasta.” Was ever a name so perfectly suited to a dish? This is edgy, spicy, and just the right side of wrong, conjuring up visions of Neapolitan streets and dangerous women in tight dresses.–Sophie Dahl

When time constraints scream for takeout, consider tossing together this weeknight-friendly pasta instead. The truly impatient should note that this quick recipe can be made even more quickly by relying on a pinch of red pepper flakes rather than a tediously chopped fresh chile and a smidgen of anchovy paste from a tube rather than the slippery real deal. There. That’s one supper situation solved. As for the rest of the week, we’d be quite happy to cook from this book every night, although perhaps that’s in part because we like how it uses the word “Voluptuous” in the title!

Pasta Puttanesca Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 5 M
  • 30 M
  • Serves 4


  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 fresh red chile, seeded and chopped , peeled and chopped
  • Two 14 1/2 ounce cans chopped tomatoes, drained
  • 8 anchovy fillets
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar (optional)
  • 1 cup black olives, pitted and chopped if desired
  • 12 to 16 ounces penne, preferably spelt pasta (spelt has a lovely light texture and nutty flavor, not to mention a healthful wholesomeness)
  • 4 heaping tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves (you could slip basil in place of parsley if you prefer)


    • 1. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 4 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the garlic and chile and sweat. (No, not you, she means to cook the garlic and chile over moderately lowish heat so they slowly, slowly throw off their moisture). Add the tomatoes, bring to a simmer, and then take it down to low heat.
    • 2. Let the sauce simmer while you pull out a pestle and mortar and grind the anchovies with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil into a paste. Add the paste to the simmering sauce and carry on with the simmering for about 20 minutes more. The sauce should be musky and heady.
    • 3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta as directed on the box until it is al dente and drain.
    4. You could add 1 teaspoon brown sugar to the sauce here, although I suggest you taste it first and then decide whether you’d like to add it or not. Add the olives to the sauce, spoon it over the pasta, scatter with a big handful of parsley, and pretend you’re in a steamy restaurant in a winding alleyway in Naples.


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