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Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca

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Serves 4 | Prep Time 10 | Cook Time 17

Why I Love This Recipe

Most people have become aware of the origins of this dish.

It's all over the net, usually labeled "Whore Pasta" or something clever like "Pastatute". However there seem to be conflicting stories as the the WHY it is called this.

Some cite it is a 1950's dish created when prostitutes were only allowed to shop 1 day a week, others state it is simply "alla Casalinga" that has been "spiced up" or "tarted up" to use an English phrase; others tout that the scent was used like a "Sirens Song" to draw men to the brothel, some insist that it was the speed at which it could be cooked, eluding that it could be cooked in the time it took to "entertain" a guest, so the meal could be eaten between clients. Which, considering that it only takes about 15 minutes, is kind of insulting to the stamina of Italian men. ;) Finally, others claim that it stems from the word "Puttanata" (meaning Garbage or whatever "Junk" is in the pantry).

The final explanation, although much more prosaic and not as scandalous, makes more sense, at least to me. Standard Puttanesca contains very little in the way of fresh ingredients, like so many other Italian dishes. Everything is preserved in some way shape or form and would be part of a standard dry pantry in Italy, unless you happen to use fresh tomatoes.

Ingredients You'll Need

1 lb Spaghetti or Bucatini
3 cloves Garlic (crushed)
3 Anchovy fillets (smashed with a fork) or 3 inched of anchovy paste
1 1/2 tsp Crushed red pepper flake
6 oz Black Olives (preferably Gaeta olives)
1/2 Cup Chicken Stock
1 Can Diced Tomatoes
3 TB Capers in Vinegar, not salt(chopped roughly)
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 sprigs of Flat-leaf Parsley (chopped rough)
3 basil leaves Chiffonade
Grated Pecorino Romano (For Serving)


In a skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and garlic, sauté briefly.

Add crushed red pepper and anchovy fillets.

Sauté for about 1 minute,

Add tomatoes and simmer 3 minutes

Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer again for 10 minutes.

When sauce simmers add olives and capers, simmer for an additional 2 minutes.

Pour over Spaghetti and toss.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley, basil and pecorino romano.

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