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Spaghetti All' Puttanesca

This Italian dish's name has a very unusual translation for a food, one you wouldn't expect: According to Merriam-Webster, "puttanesca" means "in the style of a prostitute," which is why this is also referred to as "whore's spaghetti." It's somewhat salty, given the olives and capers, and usually has garlic and hot pepper as well. It's quite good, particularly served with a nice glass of wine. You learn something new every day!


Looking for more great Italian pasta recipes?  Click here!  You can also find more tasty spaghetti recipes here.

Cooking Time35 min


  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil or less
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 dried red pepper
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 28-ounce can tomatoes, preferably Italian plum tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 15 oil-cured olives (or more)
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 3 sun-dried oil-packed tomatoes or 3 anchovies


  1. Chop the garlic and red pepper; set aside.
  2. Chop the red onion.
  3. Over a medium flame, heat the olive oil.
  4. Add the garlic and red pepper.
  5. In a minute or so, add the onion. Stir occasionally.
  6. Pit and chop the olives, and chop the sundried tomatoes or anchovies.
  7. When the onion is soft, (about 5 minutes), add the tomatoes, tomato paste, olives, capers, and sundried tomatoes or anchovies.
  8. With your stirring spoon, break up the canned tomatoes a bit.
  9. Get the water going to cook the spaghetti, and cook it while the vegetable mixture is cooking, per package directions.
  10. Cook over medium to medium-high flame until most of the moisture is gone and the sauce looks a little darker, 20-30 minutes.
  11. Serve over spaghetti, with a small amount of Parmesan.

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Spaghetti All' Puttanesca is one of the easiest spaghetti recipes to prepare and it's also one of the most popular. I like the flavor of tomatoes, the blend of sour and sweet taste when mixed with the pasta is so heavenly. This is a healthy recipe, as you notice, there is no meat included, just anchovies which is a kind of fish. This dish is perfect for those who are on diet and those who watch their weight. Can't wait to try this pasta dish.

All the information given here about this dish is rather interesting. It gave me a laugh. I mostly like tomato based pasta sauces, especially if they have a bit of a bite. I do like salty things too and if you can get the salty taste from food rather than adding in table salt I think that is a great idea. I think I'm really going to like this dish.

This dish is what the prostitutes supposedly fixed at the end of the night's work - their 'customers' often stayed to share the food after hours, hence "in the style of a prostitute prostitute"! One of the yummiest of all pasta recipes.


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