California Central Coast Recipes

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

This is a great pasta sauce for those of you out there that like food with “a kick.” It’s definitely “opinionated” in its truest form. The legend has it that its name was derived from “the ladies of the night” who would whip up this dish for their hungry customers. Other researchers say that it derives it name from its spicy impertinence. It’s saucy alright!

The secret to this recipe is to use good olives. Ripe black oil or salt cured are ideal, but in a pinch, good Kalamata olives if not too vinegary will also work. The typical canned "California" black olive is simply too wimpy!

Feel free to scale up or down the hotness. Don’t skimp on the Italian parsley.—It gives the dish a very fresh flavor and smell and is responsible for the sauce’s unique combination of flavors and aromas that you’ll crave. ©2018, Spaghetti alla Puttanesca
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
re-calculate ingredients for:


1/4 cup Extra-virgin olive oil
5 *flat anchovy fillets , minced
3 large garlic cloves , minced
1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
Salt to taste
3 cups Crushed Tomatoes , preferably low salt type
20 to 30 Black Oil cured or Kalamata olives , pitted and halved lengthwise
2 Tablespoons capers , drained and rinsed
1-1/2 cups Italian parsley leaves , snipped from stems with scissors and coarsely chopped
1 pound dried spaghetti

* Omit the anchovy for vegetarian - be sure to just sharp oil cured olives to compensate.

Preparation Directions.

1 In an unheated large saucepan or stockpot, combine the olive oil, anchovies, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Stir to coat with oil. Cook over medium low heat until the garlic is fragrant and lightly golden (do not brown) about two or three minutes.

2 Add the crushed tomatoes, then the olives and capers and stir well to distribute evenly. If sauce is too thick, add a bit of water.

3 Simmer uncovered on Medium heat until the sauce thickens about fifteen minutes.

4 Just before removing the sauce from heat, add in the chopped Italian parsley and stir.

5 Meanwhile, in a large pasta pot cook pasta as directed on package, stirring to prevent pasta from sticking to sides of pot.

6 Drain pasta well and add to sauce. Stir well and serve immediately, or if you like cover for a few minutes to allow the pasta to absorb some of the sauce’s flavors. (This pasta is also traditionally served at room temperature as side dish.)

7 Serve on individual dinner plates with each serving topped with additional parsley for presentation.

Wine and Food Pairing and Serving Suggestions.

Wine suggestion: This is a pretty intense sauce and stands up well to a robust red wine. It has plenty of acidity and heat so a robust Sangiovese or Zinfandel works well with this pasta.

A tip from Sue!

Choosing a pot

The first thing you to do is get decent cookware. Nothing is more serviceable than stainless steel, that’s what the pros use and is mandated for all commercial restaurants.

Save yourself a lot of trouble and get the best quality stainless steel that you can afford. A few basic sizes will take you a long way!