Fiery Spaghetti Puttanesca

by Jacqueline on May 17, 2013

Pasta Puttanesca

Fiery Spaghetti Puttanesca

This to me is an ideal dish for those evenings when you are short of time, only have a few ingredients to hand or when you just don’t feel like spending too much time in the kitchen cooking. Please reassure me that you all go through those days too…. Yes? Hooray for Fiery Spaghetti Puttanesca!

It is however, likely to split opinion; those that detest it for its for anchovy content and those that love it for the salty and sharp flavours brought about by the olives, anchovies and capers. Years ago I was never a great fan of anchovies but this dish “turned me” so to speak. The way the little fish break up and melt in a thick, silky, salty sauce just waiting to be lapped up by those spaghetti strands. Truly delicious and made in a matter of minutes. What’s more you can use the olive oil in the tin of anchovies to fry the shallot, garlic, chillies and anchovies.

Fiery Spaghetti Puttanesca

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Serving Size: Serves 2 for Lunch or Dinner

A very easy and tasty mid-week pasta supper dish for when you are short of time.


  • 180g of cherry tomatoes, cut into halves
  • 220g of dried spaghetti
  • 125g of black olives, pitted and cut into halves
  • 1 shallot or 1/4 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tin of anchovy fillets (8 fillet tin)
  • 2 heaped tbsp of capers, rinsed
  • 2 red chilli thinly sliced (for moderate heat, use 1 de-seeded chilli)
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 tbsp of water reserved from cooking pasta
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • Brown bread crusts, toasted
  • Basil leaves for garnish


  1. Put the spaghetti into boiling salted water and cook according to packet instructions.
  2. About 5 minutes later, empty the olive oil from the anchovy tin a frying pan along with the chopped shallot, chilli and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.
  3. Then add the anchovies to the frying pan and cook for a further minute. The anchovy fillets should start to break up and melt.
  4. Add the olives, capers and tomatoes to the pan and turn up the heat. Cook for about 90 seconds.
  5. When the spaghetti has been sufficiently cooked, drain it reserving a couple of tablespoons of water to add to the sauce.
  6. Pour the pasta to the frying pan, along with the water and toss all the ingredients together. The sauce should have a silky texture and should coat every strand of pasta.
  7. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper accordingly. Remember anchovy, olives and capers will already be heavily salted.
  8. Serve into two bowls and garnish with some basil and sprinkle on some chunky toasted breadcrumbs as required.


Linguini can also be used as a replacement for Spaghetti.

If you follow my blog, you’ll know I like a bit of heat in my dishes so I have added 2 chillies to make a fiery hot Puttanesca. I appreciate not everyone enjoys so much heat so remove the seeds and only use one chilli pepper with this dish.

If I have a spare red pepper, I like to grill, peel and add to the dish. Although not a true Puttanesca, I do feel it works well in this pasta dish.

For additional texture, I toast some crusts of brown bread and add for extra crunch.

Top it off with crusty croutons

Fiery Spaghetti Puttanesca with croutons

Who says pasta has to be boring? To be honest, I feel like a bit of a “cheat” posting this up as there is minimal cooking involved but it is a recipe I turn to time and time again.

So tell me truthfully, are you a lover or hater of anchovies? Let me know in the comments below!

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Since this uses a lot of store cupboard ingredients and minimises the use of adding extra olive oil, I’m adding this to Credit Crunch Munch challenge owned by Helen and Camilla and guest-hosted this month by Janice.

Also, because I’ve used basil in the dish, I’m going to enter this into the Herbs on a Saturday challenge owned by Karen and guest-hosted this month by Anneli over at Delicieux.

Herbs on Saturday

I’m also adding this to Bloggers Around the World challenge whose theme this month is Italy and is hosted and owned by Chris over at Cooking Around the World.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Angela May 17, 2013 at 8:24 am

Yes, I think we all have those days. It’s normally a Friday night for me. Spaghetti Puttanesca is one of those dishes that I always see but have never tried. Looks lovely.


2 Jacqueline May 17, 2013 at 8:28 am

Glad to hear it’s not just me Angela :-) Stock up on the store cupboard ingredients and resort to it on a “lazy-day” :-)


3 Camilla @FabFood4All May 17, 2013 at 9:14 am

I think I can do the anchovies but it’s the capers I can’t swallow and when we go out for a pizza I sit there and pop the little critters over on to my hubbies plate as he loves them. I’m sure my hubby and son would love this dish and maybe I could just pass on my capers:-) Thanks for entering Credit Crunch Munch:-)


4 Jacqueline May 17, 2013 at 10:01 am

Little critters – oh you do make me laugh! I figured having a recipe that features all three ; anchovies/olives/capers would divide the masses :-)


5 Mich Piece of Cake May 17, 2013 at 10:30 am

This looks so amazing! I could eat a plateful.


6 Jacqueline May 17, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Thanks Michelle!


7 Anneli (Delicieux) May 17, 2013 at 10:38 am

I love the look of this dish. Puttanesca is one of my favourite flavour combinations and I love your take on it using cherry tomatoes and crispy croutons. Such simplicity delivers amazing flavours. It’s a great dish and perfect for Herbs On Saturday!


8 Jacqueline May 17, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Thanks Anneli and welcome to my blog. Puttanesca features regularly in our home :-)


9 Franglais kitchen, Nazima May 17, 2013 at 1:46 pm

this looks delicious. I always add chilli to pasta too. I know what you mean about anchovies. I think making the river cafe salsa verde recipe turned me and I am happy to use them but try and blitz them into a mush first!


10 Jacqueline May 17, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Thanks Nazima! It’s funny how the texture of something can put people off, even though the taste remains the same.


11 Maggie May 17, 2013 at 7:23 pm

I enjoy, quick, tasty, delicious mid-week meals which are colourful too. I can just imagine eating this outside on a warm sunny evening…..I prefer not to know if my food contains anchovies.


12 Jacqueline May 18, 2013 at 3:09 am

Perhaps good not to know, if you are not a fan Maggie :-)


13 Janice May 17, 2013 at 8:49 pm

I am an anchovy lover, so this is something I would love.


14 Jacqueline May 18, 2013 at 3:09 am

Glad I have found a fan Janice!


15 Chris May 18, 2013 at 7:05 am

I also have these ‘not wanting to spend to much time for cooking’-days. Well, lately it’s a bit more often, but with dishes like this, it’s good. I love anchovies, too. Thanks also for adding this fine pasta dish to our food travels around the world.


16 Jacqueline May 18, 2013 at 8:55 am

Always a pleasure Chris!


17 kellie@foodtoglow May 18, 2013 at 10:29 am

We don’t eat much pasta for some reason, but when we do we love it with lots of spice and flavours like you have here. And I don’t think I have ever made a proper puttanesca so this great-looking recipe will fill a culinary gap for me. Bookmarking and pinning, my love


18 Jacqueline May 20, 2013 at 4:16 am

Thanks Kellie – it really is flavoursome so I’m sure you’d enjoy it!


19 Katharine May 18, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Well, unsurprisingly, I love olives, capers, anchovies and chilli so yes, this is one of my favourites. And the wonderfully vulgar name always makes me want to cook it! Nice to see that your recipe stipulates a decent amount of spaghetti – hate those recipes where you see a miserly 80g pasta per person!


20 Jacqueline May 20, 2013 at 4:18 am

I know what you mean about the name – funny eh? Yes my other half doesn’t appreciate small portions especially when it comes to pasta dishes so only a decent amount will do!


21 Katerina May 19, 2013 at 7:36 am

This spaghetti is right up my alley and the flavors are so perfectly incorporated!


22 Jacqueline May 20, 2013 at 4:18 am

Glad you like it Katerina!


23 rita cooks italian May 20, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Dear Jacqueline, we have a very similar taste: hot super spicy and anchovies to enhance flavours……(two bird eye chillies with seeds for me!!!). I love spaghetti, but for a thicker texture linguine are the best!!! Ciao e brava


24 Jacqueline May 21, 2013 at 4:32 am

Shall I let you into a wee secret? We alternate between spaghetti and linguine. Just depends what we have left :-) I agree we both have similar taste :-)


25 Diane Balch June 13, 2013 at 10:43 pm

The anchovy really brings this dish together. Lovely, stopping by from Bloggers Around the World.


26 Jacqueline June 14, 2013 at 5:58 am

Hi Dianne! Welcome to my blog. Thanks so much for taking the time to visit and make a comment :-)


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