How to Make Traditional Spaghetti Puttanesca at Home

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Ingredients and Steps for Perfect Spaghetti Puttanesca


Spaghetti Puttanesca is a classic first course hailing from the culinary traditions of Naples, colloquially known as “aulive e chiapparielle” (olives and capers). The dish is prepared with a sauce made from tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, Gaeta black olives, capers, and oregano. A variation from the Lazio region also incorporates salted anchovies into the mix.

Related articles: Spaghetti with Tomato and Basil, Traditional Italian Vegan Dishes

The earliest references to pasta served with a sauce akin to that of Puttanesca dates back to the beginning of the 19th century. In his guidebook “Cucina teorico-pratica”, Cavalcanti introduced several recipes from Neapolitan popular cuisine, including an early version of “Puttanesca” he called “Vermicelli all’oglio with olives, capers, and sauced anchovies”. The recipe reappeared sporadically in other Neapolitan cookbooks until, in 1931, the “Guida gastronomica d’Italia”, published by T.C.I., listed it as one of Campania’s culinary specialties, naming it “Maccheroni alla marinara”. This is one of many instances where the popular name of a dish emerged after its initial appearance. In fact, in Naples, this particular pasta topping is commonly referred to as “aulive e cchiapparielle”.

The first explicit reference to “Spaghetti alla Puttanesca” is by Raffaele La Capria in his novel “Ferito a morte” (1961), where he mentions “Spaghetti alla puttanesca as they make it in Syracuse”.

Ingredients For 4 people:

  • 500g of sauce tomatoes
  • 350g of spaghetti
  • 100g of pitted black olives (ideally Gaeta black olives)
  • 50g of salted capers
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 red chili pepper
  • tomato paste
  • extra virgin olive oil salt


  1. Combine 100g of oil, the garlic clove, and the chopped chili pepper in a terracotta saucepan. Once the garlic has turned dark, remove it, clean and desalinate the capers, and crush them with a fork.
  2. Add the tomatoes (peeled and chopped), olives, desalinated capers, and 2 teaspoons of tomato paste. Mix well, adjust the salt to taste, and let the sauce cook for 10 minutes. It should be rather dark when done. Some people also add parsley at this point.
  3. Meanwhile, boil the spaghetti in salted water. Drain it when al dente and toss it with the sauce.
  4. To complement this flavorful dish, a glass of dry, delicately scented white wine is highly recommended.

Topics: Authentic Spaghetti Puttanesca recipe, how to make Spaghetti Puttanesca, Neapolitan Spaghetti Puttanesca, Lazio variation of Puttanesca, pairing wine with Spaghetti Puttanesca, Spaghetti Puttanesca with Gaeta olives and capers, traditional Naples pasta recipes

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