‘Dish of the Night’ Pasta Puttanesca Recipe

STEPS 5 INGREDIENTS 6 TIME 35 MINS If you’re keen on olives and capers, you’ll love this risqué pasta puttanesca recipe. Italian_pasta_puttanesca_recipe

Just take olives, plum tomatoes, a spoonful of capers, fry ‘em all up, and mix with twizzly spaghetti to get a sumptuous dish full of flavour and textures.

Why risqué? Well in Italian puttana means – ahem – ‘lady of the night’. Therefore pasta puttanesca is the quick n’ tasty treat that Italy’s high-street honeys used to dish up between, erm, ‘working’ clients. (Get it? C’mon, don’t make me repeat it, I’m blushing!)

Right then olive lovers, let’s get to it…

Serves 2

Ingredients: (For a printable PDF shopping list click here, or right-click this link and choose ‘Save target/link as’ to save the list for later.)

1 tablespoon (25g/.8oz) capers (in salt, not vinegar)


15 black olives

220g/7.7oz spaghetti

400g/14oz tin of plum tomatoes

Extra virgin olive oil



Glug of red wine


Deep pan/skillet (for boiling pasta)

Second pan/skillet or deep frying pan (with lid)


STEP 1 – First, take out the olive pips. To do this, use a small sharp knife to carefully cut away each olive’s sides.

– Rinse the salt from a small handful of capers: use a sieve for this or just stand the capers in a bowl of hot water for a minute then drain carefully.

STEP 2 – Throw your olive bits and tablespoon of rinsed capers into your frying pan. Cover the pan’s base in olive oil and pop on a medium heat hob.

– When the oil is hot (not smoking or spitting – that’s too hot!), fry gently for 2-3 mins until the capers wilt/shrink a little.

Optional: Got some leftover red wine? Throw in 3 or 4 tablespoons now while frying the capers for even more sturdy flavor.

STEP 3 – Use a fork to add the plum tomatoes. Don’t add their juice – as we don’t want to ‘over-tomato’ this particular sauce (it’s the olives that rule here!).

– Pop a pinch of salt onto each plum tomato (a very small pinch if using the strong rock salt from the caper jar). Cover the pan for 3-4 mins as the toms soften.

– Once soft, use a spoon to squish and break up the toms. Then uncover and simmer for 15-20 minutes – until our oily tomato sauce is thick and doesn’t taste sour.

Tip: If the sauce is still a little sour after 20 mins, stir in either a sprinkle of sugar or a teaspoon of milk. This will negate any remaining sourness.

STEP 4 – Roughly 10 mins from the end of this sauce cooking time, boil up a full pan of hot water (including a handful of salt) and throw in your spaghetti.

– Cook the spaghetti for as long as its packet suggests, stirring regularly to avoid it sticking.

STEP 5 – When the sauce is done, remove from heat. When the spaghetti is cooked al dente (firm but no longer white inside when bitten), drain this and stir in with the sauce.


Grab some tasty red wine, a chunk of bread and enjoy your pasta puttanesca’s olivey oilyness.