Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

I love simple food; cooked with fresh and seasonal ingredients it helps to capture the moment. Tomatoes are one of those summer ingredients that capture the heat, warmth and excitement of the season and cooking with them is always a treat.

With this in mind we had a few friends over at the weekend and what better to feed them with than some beautiful fresh tomato sauce and pasta. Washed down with copious amounts of red wine I think it’s a pretty good way to spend a Friday evening.

I really like the salty savoury taste of Anchovies with my sauce so I’d opted for Puttanesca sauce. Tomatoes, Olives, Capers and Anchovies... simple and delicious doused liberally with Parmigiano it’s pretty heavenly.

This is possibly quite an old school way of cooking a tomato sauce but the dish itself is a fairly modern creation originating in Southern Italy in the mid 20th century.

According to Wiki this was either invented by an Italian cook called Sandro Petti or it’s the traditional food of Italian whores who couldn’t go shopping much so had to make do with the odds and end in the pantry. You decide which is more likely?

Ingredients for 6 people:
Tomatoes – 6 Large Fresh vine should do, 1 tin of Plum tomatoes chopped in juice for bulk and pureed for that additional tomato kick.
Stock Veg – 3 or 4 sticks of Celery, 2 Red Onion, 3 or 4 Garlic Cloves and 2 Carrots all chopped finely.
Anchovies – I love them so a whole tin.
Olives – Black or Green whichever you prefer. Chopped.
Capers – Whole or Caper Paste, whatever you’ve got.
This is Whores Spaghetti after all so I’ve thrown a bit Sausage in as well. I’ve used a spicy Italian sausage for that extra peppery kick.
Stock 250ml of Fresh Beef, Chicken or Veg whatever your preference is.
Red Wine - Lets not go crazy here as you should use the good stuff and it's for the drinking as well.
Seasoning – Season before you serve to taste not before.

This is an incredibly simple, got a big pan and put it on the heat:

Sweat off the Stock Veg in the oil from the Anchovies till soft, throw in the sausage after shredding it up. Chuck in your fresh tomatoes after chopping them roughly. Throw in the Olives, Capers and Anchovies at this stage.

You are wanting to sweat down all the fresh ingredients on a gentle heat until they are soft and the tomatoes are losing their shape. This can all be done really easily while drinking and chatting to people so it's all the better for an easy meal.

Pour in your stock, a squidge of tomato puree and some red wine then stir. Bring it to a gentle simmer and walk away and drink some wine. This will be good after a few minutes but let it cook down for a while and it’s even better check seasoning your at the end.

Cook your pasta and serve with lots of grated Parmesan on top, none of that shaved parmesan bullshit. Oh and if you are doing things right your friends should be pretty drunk by now so don’t worry if you haven’t cooked your pasta al dente.


  1. That sounds delicious! I've never bothered to use the soffrito style veg trio, carrots celery onions, when making a Puttanesca before, normally just garlic, anchovies, olives, capers, tomatoes and a bit of fresh parsley if I have some knocking around. May have to try adding in the extra veg some time. Have never considered adding stock to a tomato sauce before either so that's another addition to try, how much stock did you add here please?

    I love this sort of meal for it's simplicity though, it's become quite a regular after work meal with an added pinch of chilli flakes to keep my boy happy. Sometimes I'll go to the trouble of skinning and deseeding the tomatoes first which I prefer but not always or I've used halved red and yellow cherry tomatoes before which was nice too, and occasionally it'll just be a can of chopped instead.

  2. I've heard it was called whore's pasta as the smell coming from the kitchen windows while this was cooking used to entice them off the streets.

    I love that you've added sossidge; my staple puttanesca is garlic, chilli, tomatoes, anchovies, capers, olives and parsley.

  3. @Lizzie I think sossidge is great added to most thing, but the earthy paprika heat works really well here. I would normally add Parsley as well but the celery for me works in a similar sense.

    @Becca I get the feeling your boy is like me, If I had some chillies in the fridge they would have gone in as well! I've amended the ingredients to show how much to use. The stock adds really well to the depth of the dish but essentially you are wanting to cook most of it down.

  4. Do love a bit of puttanesca (it's on my blog somewhere) and am one of the chili adders like Becca, I guess your sausage adds a bit of heat though.

    I'd heard it was to do with using up the store cupboard ingredients of hookers too.

  5. Me likey puttanesca. Me likey a lot. Your recipe is muchos different to mine, but variety is the spice of life. I need some heat in mine though (like Joshua and Becca). Whores are spicy little beggers afterall.


  6. I'm going to have to check out these other Puttanesca's... The sauces that is! I'll check your blog out for it Josh and Becci you'll have t post yours I'd be interested in seeing it!

  7. It seems everyone is a chilli adder around these parts! Thanks for adding the stock quantity above, I'll give your recipe a go and report back soon as I can.