Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Lovingly referred to as “whore sauce” by my oh-so-clever husband John, puttanesca is a hearty, tangy, and spicy red sauce from Southern Italy.  According to legend, the sauce was made by prostitutes as an effort to lure customers so puttanesca literally means in the style of a prostitute.  Controversial back story aside, the sauce is delicious and the ingredients store nicely in the pantry so they’re always on-hand for a quick dinner.  It pairs nicely with whole wheat spaghetti or orecchiette and a bottle of red wine.


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

6 ounce can of medium-ripe, pitted olives, finely chopped, juice reserved

1/2 cup non-pareil capers

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons reserved olive juice

28 oz crushed tomatoes with basil

A handful of basil leaves, thinly sliced (optional)

1 lb whole wheat spaghetti, penne or orecchiette pasta

-Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.

-Heat the olive oil in a medium stockpot over medium high heat.  Add the chopped olives, capers, and garlic to the pan and saute, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes.  Add the reserved olive juice and continue to stir for 3 more minutes.

-Add the crushed tomatoes and stir to combine.  Bring to a simmer.  Lower heat and cook for 15 minutes.

-Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain.  Add sauce and toss to coat.  Serve hot.

4 to 6 servings