This Spaghetti Puttanesca is filled with the spicy, bold flavors of garlic, chili flakes, anchovies, olives, and capers. It’s an easy, classic Italian dish you’ll adore!
Table of Contents
- A Timeless Pasta Dish with Tons of Flavor
- Why Is It Called Spaghetti Puttanesca?
- What Does Pasta Puttanesca Taste Like?
- Recipe Ingredients
- How to Make Spaghetti Puttanesca
- Helpful Tips
- Tasty Serving Suggestions
- Storing and Reheating Guidelines
- Can I Freeze Pasta Puttanesca?
- Get the Recipe
- More Classic Pasta Dishes
A Timeless Pasta Dish with Tons of Flavor
Spaghetti puttanesca is a classic recipe that everyone should know how to make! It’s so easy, so good, and comes together with basic pantry ingredients like canned tomatoes and olives. When you are out of everything and don’t feel like cooking, puttanesca might just be the answer!
Why Is It Called Spaghetti Puttanesca?
The translation of “puttanesca” actually means, “in the style of the prostitute.” Scandalous, right? Some people even think that Neapolitan prostitutes invented this recipe, and used its powerful aroma to lure in customers.
However, that seems a little bit unlikely. The Italian word “puttana,” meaning prostitute, comes from the word “putida,” meaning “stinky.” With anchovies as a key ingredient, the name “puttanesca” probably came about as a humorous reference to anchovies, rather than the cooking skills of Neapolitan “ladies of the night!”
What Does Pasta Puttanesca Taste Like?
This dish is absolutely crammed with flavor, thanks to the blend of powerful ingredients. Olives and capers are both briny and salty. Capers also have a sort of herbal tanginess to them, while olives are rich and moist, which makes a good contrast. The anchovies dissolve into the sauce, giving it a subtly meaty, umami taste. Add a flavorful olive oil and tomato sauce with plenty of garlic, and this easy pasta dish is totally irresistible.
Feeling hungry yet? Great! This is what you’ll need to gather up in order to make spaghetti puttanesca.
- Pasta: Dry spaghetti noodles. Thin spaghetti would also work, just be careful not to overcook it!
- Olive Oil: For sautéing.
- Onion and Garlic: Chop the onion and mince the garlic.
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes: Use the amount that suits your taste, or leave it out, if you prefer.
- Anchovies: Finely chopped anchovies are a key ingredient in this classic pasta dish. Look for a good canned variety packed in water or oil.
- Olives: I use chopped black olives.
- Capers: Another key ingredient, capers are usually found near the olives and pickles.
- Diced Tomatoes: Use your favorite canned, diced tomatoes.
- Salt and Pepper
- Pecorino Romano: Use finely-grated pecorino romano, or parmesan.
- Parsley: Chopped, fresh parsley.
- Basil: Fresh basil leaves, for garnish. This is optional, but great!
How to Make Spaghetti Puttanesca
Quick and easy is the name of the game here. We’re talking boil the pasta, dump everything else in a skillet, and that’s about it! Here’s the skinny:
- Cook the Spaghetti. Bring a pot of water to a boil, and cook the spaghetti for 2 minutes less than the package says. (It will finish cooking in the sauce.) Then drain it, reserving a few tablespoons of the cooking water.
- Saute the Aromatics. While the spaghetti is boiling, heat the olive oil in a skillet, and cook the onion, garlic, and chili flakes for about four minutes.
- Add the Anchovies, Olives, and Capers. Stir in the anchovies, olives, and capers, and let those cook for another couple of minutes.
- Finish the Sauce. Add the tomatoes, and simmer the sauce for about four minutes. Then stir in the pecorino romano.
- Toss the Pasta in the Sauce. Once the pasta is done, drain it and add it to the sauce. Toss to coat. If it needs a little more liquid, add a couple of tablespoons of the reserved pasta water, and cook for another 3 minutes or so.
- Enjoy! Serve the spaghetti puttanesca in bowls, garnished with parsley and basil.
If you’ve never made spaghetti puttanesca, you might have some questions about the process and ingredients. These helpful tips will tell you all you need to know!
- Anchovies: Can you taste the anchovies? When you cook with anchovies, they don’t taste fishy. They just add a nice salty flavor to the dish, and lots of umami.
- Anchovy Substitutes: For an anchovy-less version, you can replace the anchovies with a little bit of tamari sauce, seaweed, or finely chopped artichoke hearts.
- Pasta: You will want to undercook the pasta by 2 minutes. It will cook till tender in the sauce.
- Tomatoes: San Marzano tomatoes are a great option, if you can find them. They’re known for being less acidic than other canned varieties.
Tasty Serving Suggestions
So what should you serve with spaghetti puttanesca? These easy recipes are the perfect sides to round out the menu.
- Bread: A big slice of warm Goat Cheese Garlic Bread makes an irresistible side with any plate of pasta.
- Salad: The medley of tastes and colors in my Copycat Maggiano’s Chopped Salad is sure to be a hit!
- Soup: A bowl or cup of creamy soup is another great way to beef up the meal and add contrast. This Creamy Roasted Mushroom Soup is not only scrumptious, it’s low-carb as well.
Storing and Reheating Guidelines
If you have leftover pasta puttanesca, you can store it in your refrigerator for up to three days. To keep it as fresh as possible, store it in zip-top bags or airtight containers. You can reheat this dish on the stove over medium heat, just until the ingredients are warmed through.
Can I Freeze Pasta Puttanesca?
Yes, you can! Just cool It down, transfer it into freezer containers, and then freeze it for up to three months. Thaw it out overnight in the fridge before reheating.
- 8 oz dried spaghetti
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup finely chopped onion
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 5 anchovy filets, finely chopped
- ¼ cup chopped black olives
- ¼ cup capers, drained
- 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 oz finely grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for serving
- 1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
- Basil leaves, for garnish, optional
- Cook the spaghetti for 2 minutes less than the package says.
- While the spaghetti cooks, heat the olive oil over medium-low and cook the onion, garlic, and chili flakes for 4 minutes.
- Stir in the anchovies, olives, capers and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and simmer for 4 minutes, then stir in the grated cheese.
- Drain the spaghetti and add it to the sauce and toss to coat. If needed, add a couple of tablespoons of the hot spaghetti water and cook for another 3 minutes.
- Serve bowls of the spaghetti with more grated cheese, parsley and basil, if desired.
More Classic Pasta Dishes
- Pasta Primavera
- Easy Shrimp Alfredo
- Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo
- Million Dollar Spaghetti
- Easy Shrimp Scampi
- Spaghetti Carbonara
- Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta
- Best Homemade Alfredo Sauce
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