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Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca requires a spicy sauce and there are many interpretations for how to make it. One essential ingredient is hot red pepper flakes or paste that gives this sauce a kick.   Serves 4


2  tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2  tablespoons minced garlic

1/2  teaspoon red pepper paste or 1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes 

1  tablespoon anchovy paste

1  tablespoon tomato paste

1/2  cup coarsely chopped green olives (10-12) plus a few whole for garnish

1/3  cup pitted black olives in oil, cut in half (8-10) (plus a few whole for garnish

1  tablespoon capers in brine, drained

2  cups halved cherry tomatoes or 2 cups canned plum tomatoes

2/3  cup red wine  (We used Chianti Classico.)

2  tablespoons chopped parsley

Juice and zest of 1 large lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2  pound whole wheat spaghetti or chickpea pasta

Grated Pecorino Romano cheese for sprinkling


Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and cook the garlic until it begins to soften.   Add the pepper flakes or pepper paste and cook 1 minute.  Stir in the anchovy and tomato paste and cook a couple of minutes.  Stir in the green and black olives, capers and tomatoes and cook a couple of minutes until the tomatoes start to shrivel.  Raise the heat to high and add the wine, allowing it to reduce for a couple of minutes.  Stir in the parsley, lemon juice and zest.  Season with salt and pepper and keep warm while the spaghetti cooks.

Cook the spaghetti in 4 quarts of boiling, salted water (1 tablespoon salt) until the spaghetti is al dente, meaning that when a strand is broken in half, no raw flour is visible.  Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta water.  Add the reserved water to the sauce and stir over low heat to blend.  Add the spaghetti and toss well with the sauce.

Serve in bowls with an olive or two and Pecorino Romano cheese sprinkled over each serving.

This recipe is featured on show 2805 – Classic Neapolitan Pasta.


  1. Ellis's avatar


    I cant wait to. Try this recipe
  2. Ellis's avatar


    I cant wait to. Try this recipe
  3. Patricia Shenk's avatar

    Patricia Shenk

    I'm watching Mary Ann cook this right now & it looks Soooo good!! I've been wanting a sauce like this!!
  4. John Allen's avatar

    John Allen

    Yup, this looks amazingly tasty. Can't wait until I will be able to go out to an actual Italian restaurant and order some live, in person, and with some fellow diners. Sadly, when that day does eventually come, we might all still be wearing masks!
  5. Nini's avatar


    Cooking now! Ingredients were easy to get from Trader Joes. It was strong at first (wine) but got mellow as it simmered. Truly thick from the start and it turned out wonderfully!
  6. Chuck's avatar


    Way too much lemon juice. I’ve never seen a puttanesca recipe with lemon but I followed the instructions. The lemon taste was overpowering. Very disappointing.

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