Puttanesca recipe: How to make puttanesca

Invented in Naples in the mid-20th century, Spaghetti puttanesca is a classic. It takes about half an hour to make from start to finish, and it is an affordable meal for the whole family. Express.co.uk talks you through BBC Good Food’s spaghetti puttanesca recipe.

The sauce in puttanesca is called sugo alla puttanesca in Italian.

Recipes for the sauce may differ from region to region in Italy.

For example, the Neapolitan version is prepared without anchovies unlike Lazio’s version.

You can pair the sauce with whatever pasta you fancy, but it is traditionally served with spaghetti.

Why not try penne, bucatini, linguine, or vermicelli with this versatile sauce?

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Sometimes spices are added, but most people find the sauce tasty enough without.

Garlic and anchovies are simply sautéed in olive oil, something we all have at home.

The chopped chili peppers, olives, capers, diced tomatoes, and oregano are added along with salt and black pepper to taste– sounds easy enough!

The final touch is a topping of parsley, so don’t leave out the parsley from this recipe.


  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 5 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
  • 120g pitted black olives
  • 2 tbsp capers, drained
  • 300g dried spaghetti
  • ½ small bunch of parsley, finely chopped

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Step one

Heat the oil in a non-stick pan over a medium-low heat.

Step two

Add the onion along with a generous pinch of salt and fry for 10 mins, or until soft.

Step three

Add the garlic and chilli, if using, and cook for a further minute.

Step four

Stir the tomatoes, anchovies, olives and capers into the onion, bring to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, for 15 mins.

Step five

Season to taste with whatever spices you like, or just stick to salt and pepper.

Step six

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.

Step seven

Cook the spaghetti following pack instructions, then drain and toss with the sauce and parsley.

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