The secret to this pasta alla puttanesca is the combination of show-stopping ingredients. Each is delicious on its own, but once blended together, you’re in for umami nirvana. You could say this is the ultimate pantry pasta: snoop around the kitchen of any Italian you know and you’ll find a can of peeled tomatoes, some anchovy fillets, black olives, and capers sitting around, more often than not in the same corner of the pantry.

The story behind the name of this pasta is as grungy as it is divisive. Nobody seems to agree on the true origin of what’s sometimes translated as “slattern pasta.” So, let’s leave the aura of mystery around the name and go back to the power of umami aromas filling the kitchen. Puttanesca sauce comes together very quickly, just be sure to prep your ingredients in advance. Pitting Maida’s black olives is, mercifully, relatively easy. Just squish each one with the side of a heavy knife to split the flesh and pry out the pits. Of course, you could also leave them unpitted, so long as you and your guests don’t mind.


TIME: 30 minutes



  1. Begin by boiling a pot of water for the pasta. Salt it less than you usually would. You’ll add some of this pasta water to the final sauce, which will already be quite salty from the anchovies and capers.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the extra virgin olive oil over medium-low heat in a large, heavy bottomed pan. If you like, you can replace some of the EVOO with the olive oil from the jar of black olives. It’ll add some extra olive-y depth to the dish! Add the anchovies and whole garlic cloves, stirring until the anchovies dissolve into the oil.
  3. When the garlic cloves just begin to take on some color, stir in the chili peppers, capers, and olives. Next, add the tomatoes, crushing them with your hands. (If you really don’t want to use your hands, crush the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. But we highly recommend getting your hands in there!) Mix well and bring to a low simmer.
  4. At this point, begin cooking the spaghettoni. When they’re a minute away from al dente, remove the garlic cloves from the sauce. Using tongs, transfer the pasta to the simmering, tomato-y, umami-rich pan. Stir to combine until the spaghettoni are done cooking, ladling in more pasta water as needed.
  5. Divide between bowls and serve sprinkled with parsley.

pasta alla puttanesca ingredients