Pasta Puttanesca by the numbers – authentic Italian cooking series

I was raised on Spaghetti and meat balls. Tomatoes are my blood. Decades on, I take the greatest delight in genuine Italian cooking. My mama was raised in an Italian-Canadian enclave in Montreal and she knew her stuff. Here in the 21st Century, I have expanded on my childhood knowledge by digging deeper into the cuisine.

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Enter pasta Puttanseca. It is a simple dish with a storied past. I’ll let my readers draw their own conclusions as to the myth versus the reality – but on dreary days, this is one of our go-to recipes for a quick and satisfying meal with the minimum of fuss, quick preparation with ready ingredients… made better by the addition of my incredible sourdough focaccia bread


1/8 c. extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, smashed
4 anchovy fillets, chopped
1 (14-oz.) diced fire roasted tomatoes
1/4 c. kalamata olives, pitted
1/8 c. capers
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
Serving for 2 of boxed spaghetti or bucatini
Chopped parsley, for garnish
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving


Heat oil in a large skillet or pot over medium heat.
Add garlic and cook until fragrant – about 1 minute.
Add anchovies and cook until fragrant, another minute.
Add tomatoes, olives, capers, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water (heaping tablespoon of kosher salt to water) to a boil.
Add spaghetti and cook according to package directions, until al dente; drain. Toss spaghetti in sauce.

Sprinkle with parsley and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Serve with a fat glass of Red wine and my incredible Focaccia bread – You’ll thank me later.

Colin Newell is a Victoria resident and coffee expert exploring the powers of the internet since 1996 – his treatise on caffeine has cured many a case of insomnia over the years…