Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Spaghetti alla puttanesca, literally translates to "whores spaghetti". Historians believe this dish originated in the brothels of Napoli as a quick, delicious and inexpensive way to re-fuel before a gruelling days..or nights work. How about that for a quick and interesting fact?!
One would traditionally make this with capers and olives but I omit these key ingredients as I'm not a fan of having too many salty components in one dish. Taking this recipe another step away from tradition are the delicious toasted breadcrumbs I've added for texture and depth. I think this is an improved version but traditionalists would most probably bang their forks in protest... don't knock it till you try it my friends;)


1 package spaghetti
4 large tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon chili flakes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly smashed
1/2 cup onions, small diced
6 anchovies
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste


Bring water  with a good dash of salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Cook pasta according to instructions.  Heat skillet, add extra virgin olive oil and onions. Cook until onions are soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook until soft. Add tomatoes, anchovies, chili flakes and tomatoes. Stir and break apart the anchovies- helping them melt into the sauce. Cover and cook on a low simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper. Add spaghetti to the saucepan- stirring to incorporate all the flavours. Toss in the parsley. Top with crumbs. (see recipe below)

Breadcrumb Topping

1 cup old bread
1/4 cup parm cheese
1 garlic clove, peeled and lightly smashed
1/5 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil


Blitz bread in a food processor. Heat extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan. Add garlic and cook until soft. Toss in breadcrumbs and cook until golden. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese.


  1. I get my capers in vinegar, instead of in brine. Olives, I rinse a bit if they're salty.

    This one's a winner, Sara! Seems like a very versatile dish you can build up on. :D

  2. Or slut's spaghetti as Nigella calls it!

    About the breadcrumb topping, I make it as well occasionally, doesn't it smell lovely...mmm
    Does it have a name?- breadcrumbs hardly does it justice.

  3. Nigella! I love her. I'm afraid there's no other name ;(.. any suggestions?

  4. I did a google search and indeed- bread-crumb topping it is!