Pasta puttanesca

Pasta puttanesca, or prostitutes’ pasta (so named perhaps because it is so quick to make it left ladies of the night more time to earn their living) is one of my store cupboard standby recipes.

I nearly always have the ingredients in stock and it’s also really handy to make on holiday. If I know I’m going to be staying off the beaten track, a long way from local shops, it’s useful to have all the ingredients for this recipe packed in my luggage. I buy packets of pasta and packets of black olives instead of cans and the small tins of anchovies, jars of capers and packets of spaghetti fit easily in a suitcase. You can use the oil from the anchovies to fry the garlic and chilli flakes, avoiding the need to pack additional olive oil.

I practically lived off this recipe when staying on my own for a week in a cabin in Arctic Norway a few years’ ago and have also made this for friends in the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. It’s perfect holiday food when you come home after a long walk in the great outdoors, feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and happy to be away – served with a few glasses of red wine.

You can use any pasta but linguine or spaghetti is traditional.

Serves four.


  • One clove of garlic, roughly chopped
  • Two pinches of chilli flakes/dried chilli
  • Tin of anchovies
  • 200g tin tomatoes or packet of passata
  • 400g spaghetti or linguine
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons halved and stoned black olives 


  1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta.
  2. Meanwhile pour some of the oil from the can of anchovies into a pan and heat gently, cook the garlic and the chilli flakes.
  3. Drain and roughly chop the anchovies and add to the pan, cook for about half a minute then add the tomatoes, capers and olives. Season with black pepper.
  4. Cook until the pasta is ready, drain the pasta and serve.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. mistimaan says:

    Nice recipe


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