Pasta alla Puttanesca.

The name comes from the Italian ‘puttana’, which means prostitute. Why ‘whores’ pasta’? I have no idea; maybe because it is so quick and easy that a girl could whip herself up a hearty nosh between clients on a busy night. The term has been around for many years, perhaps even centuries. It is popular all over Italy, and particularly, for some reason, in Rome. The genuine article calls for anchovies, which are an acquired taste, so I use a couple of small fillets to give the right tang and sardines for the bulk. Also, the original would use fresh chillies, but I find a bit of Thai sweet chilli sauce does the trick for me, as chillies are very expensive and you can never be quite sure how much one should use.



6 cloves garlic, chopped.

1 105g can sardines.

3 anchovy fillets.

½ cup flat leaf parsley or celery leaves, chopped.

1 410g can chopped tomatoes.

2 tablespoons tomato paste.

1 tblsp Thai sweet chilli sauce.

2 tablespoons rubbed origanum.

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar.

½ cup diced olives.

½ cup grated pecorino romano cheese or grated aged cheddar.

½ cup olive oil.

3 cups short dried pasta, e.g. Fusilli or spirals.

Salt to taste.



Peel and chop the garlic and set aside. Reserving some of the parsley for garnish, places the sardines in a small bowl together with the anchovies, parsley, tomatoes, tomato paste, chilli sauce, rubbed origanum and balsamic vinegar. Mash to a paste and set aside. Chop up the olives and add them to the grated cheese in a bowl and set aside.



Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, add the pasta when ready and simmer for the recommended period. Meanwhile, place a deep, wide pan on a hot flame, add the oil and fry the garlic until golden. Add the tomato mixture, bring to the boil then reduce the heat, allowing the sauce to simmer until the pasta is done.

Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the cooking water and stir it into the sauce. Stir the cheese and the olives into the mixture until all is thoroughly coated, adding a little pasta water to bring the sauce to right consistency. Check for seasoning and add a little more salt if you feel you need it [remember that the anchovies are very saly, and there will have been salt in the pasta water]. Serve immediately.


Serve with: Fresh salad on the side.


Serves: 2.


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