Sunday, January 9, 2011

Pasta Puttanesca

Posted by: Maggie

Did you know that pasta puttanesca is also known as "whore's spaghetti"? Legend has it that Italian prostitutes would cook this dish to lure in potential customers.  I can see why that worked, since I left my apartment shortly after cooking this for Sunday lunch, and could smell the garlic 15 feet down the hall when I returned.  Let's just hope that those hookers were packing breathmints, because this is one stinky, but delicious meal.

(Sidenote: I'm really curious to see what kind of google hits I get thanks to the preceeding paragraph containing certain words atypical to a cooking blog. Perhaps hits from brothel patrons searching for "what to feed a hooker."  FEED THEM THIS!  It's tasty, and historical!)

Here is what you will need...I omitted the anchovy paste, not because I hate anchovies (I happen to love them), but because Whole Foods sucks and sold me a tube of anchovy paste that had burst open on the end.  I didn't see it when I bought it since the tube was in a cardboard box.  Oh well...include it if you can - it will only make an already amazing dish more delicious.

12 ounces dried spaghetti
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 5-6 cloves)
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
1/2 - 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (depending on your spice tolerance)
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes in juice, pureed in blender
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons capers, drained
Pinch of sugar
Basil, chiffonaded
Shredded parmesan cheese

Cook spaghetti according to package directions.

While spaghetti is cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat.  When oil is shimmering, add in garlic, anchovy paste, and red pepper flakes.  Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally,  and then dump in pureed tomatoes, olives, and capers.

Let simmer, stirring occasionally while pasta is cooking.  Add sugar to taste, to cut the acidity of the tomatoes.  Add in salt and pepper if desired. (I felt like the sauce was salty enough from the capers and olives, and did not add any extra seasoning.)

Drain the pasta, and combine with the sauce.  Sprinkle with basil and Parmesan just before serving.

P.S. Vegetarian readers - please don't be mad that I categorized this as vegetarian.  I was a vegetarian for many, many years, and would have taken major exception to the fact that a recipe containing anchovy paste was classified this way.  Since I left the anchovy paste out, and since it tastes so awesome without using it I decided to stick the label on there for organizational purposes.

Adapted from: The Curvy Carrot


  1. I laughed out loud at the Google hits bit... Hooker or no hooker, if it works to lure in patrons... it can lure many others. I am in!

  2. I love puttanesca because I'm a big fan of anchovies and olives. The name is funny but perhaps is one of the things that made this pasta interesting and popular.


  3. Sounds delicious! I love that it's called Whore's Spaghetti too, I'm totally calling it that when I make it! I love dishes with history behind them.

    Good luck with the blog hits from Google, it amazes me how people stuble across my blog sometimes. My favorite blog hit of all time came from a person who searched "old lady topless" on Google. Bet they were disappointed when they clicked my blog and found recipes and cooking tips instead! haha


  4. This recipe looks awesome. Stinky or not, I am going to try this.

  5. tasty, it's also featured in Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events".
    I hated most of the ingredients until I both grew up and had this. Yum!

  6. "Let's just hope that those hookers were packing breathmints, because this is one stinky, but delicious meal." --easily the best comment I've EVER read on a food blog

  7. Hahaha I LOVE this.. Ya I hope they were packin some breath mints too!! lol This sounds delish!!

  8. Hahaha love the little history of it... looks delicious! I don't care what kinda breath garlic gives--it's amazing!

  9. Looks amazing!! I'm definitely subscribing :) Can't wait to see more!

  10. this looks great! I love Pasta Puttanesca. When I get around to making it, i will come back for your recipe - thanks for sharing! XO, Heather

  11. Here in Portugal almost every italian restaurant has a version of this pasta, sometimes they just don't called it by it's real name... wonder why!


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