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Pasta Puttenesca

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This Pasta Puttanesca recipe is made with the original ingredients, but you can adjust the amounts to suit your taste. It's loaded with flavor and nutrients.



200 g of spaghetti for a main dish for two people or a small serving before a main dish for four people.

1 tbsp olive oil

1-2 cloves of fresh garlic

6-8 anchovies

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

1 tbsp capers

About 1/3 cup cured black olives- see notes below

3/4 cup to 1 cup of homemade tomato sauce or a cup of fresh cherry tomatoes and a tsp of tomato paste- see notes below

1/4 cup of fresh parsley

Freshly ground black pepper


1. Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a frying pan large enough to hold the cooked pasta. In the ingredients, I stated a tablespoon as a guideline. There’s no need to dirty a measuring spoon, just add a drizzle of olive oil to your pan.

2. Mince the garlic with a knife or garlic press and add it to the pan. The oil should be hot enough to sizzle the garlic but not burn it. Cook the garlic for about a minute.

3. Add the anchovies and cook them while stirring a few times for about 2-3 minutes until they melt. They will dissolve into the oil.

4. Add the red pepper flakes and cook for about a minute.

5. Add capers and olives and stir to combine.

6. Add the tomato sauce and stir. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the sauce cook for about 10 minutes.

If you are using fresh tomatoes, keep the heat on medium and add the tomatoes to the pan. Cook them until they are soft, and then mash them- a potato masher works very well. Add a teaspoon of tomato paste to make the sauce richer in flavor and thicker.

7. Cook pasta to just under al dente - about 1 1/2 minutes less than the package recommends. By sampling the pasta, you can test to see if the pasta is cooked al dente. If there is a small amount of white in the center of the pasta and it is firm but not too difficult to chew, then it is ready.

8. When the pasta is cooked, reserve a few tablespoons of the pasta water before straining it- you’ll use this for the sauce.

9. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the sauce. Add a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water and increase the heat to bring the pasta and sauce to a vigorous simmer. The starch in the pasta water helps to thicken the sauce and helps it cling to the pasta better.

10. Sprinkle with fresh parsley. And tell everyone to have a seat; the pasta is ready.


If you are serving a salad, it is customary to eat the salad after. Then you don't have to get up from the table to make pasta after you eat your salad. Some after-dinner cheese would pair well with the salad after this pasta dish.

Look for cured black olives at the olive bar at your grocery store, or order them here. Canned black olives do not have the same taste, and while this dish won’t be terrible, it won’t be as good if you use canned olives. You can read more about the difference between canned black olives and high-quality cured olives here and where to buy them online.

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