Prep 15 mins
Cook 15 mins
Spaghetti alla Puttanesca translates literally as “Whore’s Spaghetti” it is also called Spaghetti alle Vongole Fujute (spaghetti with escaped clams), Neapolitan tradition claims that the former name (Spaghetti alla Puttanesca) is derived from the fact that good hearted Neapolitan prostitutes would prepare the dish for their clients from ingredients found in every Neapolitan kitchen and that the most visited ladies were the ones that made the best spaghetti . . . in Naples I guess the stomach rules the heart!
- 1⁄2-2⁄3 cup pitted black olives (Kalamata or Gaeta)
- 6 -10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 4 -5 anchovy fillets (optional)
- 1 lb firm roma tomato, seeded and roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 2⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1⁄2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
- 12 large basil leaves, chiffonade
- 12 ounces spaghetti
- kosher salt, coarse ground
- Over high heat bring a large pot of heavily salted water to the boil to cook the spaghetti.
- Rinse the anchovies (if used) and capers in cold water to remove saltiness.
- Put oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. When the oil heats up, add the garlic, pepper flakes, and anchovies and sauté, stirring constantly (about 4 minutes). Do not allow the garlic to brown!
- When the oil becomes fragrant add the capers, and olives and continue sautéing for a few minutes, stirring often. Lower the heat to low and keep the sauce warm.
- Cook spaghetti in boiling water until al dente, drain reserving about ½ cup of the cooking water to “loosen” the sauce if seems too “tight”.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and most of the basil (reserve a little to dress) to the sauce, stirring or tossing to combine and heat the tomatoes through (the idea is not to cook the tomatoes but only to heat them through).
- Add the cooked and drained spaghetti to the pan and toss to coat with the sauce and correct seasoning. Divide among the serving plates, dress each with chiffonade basil and serve accompanied by grated Parmesan or Romano cheese and crusty French or Italian bread.