Pasta Puttanesca (Tarts Spaghetti)

In Italian, a puttanesca is a 'lady of the night', which is why Delia Smith's red hot sauce is fiery, strong and gutsy
By Delia Smith
Pasta Puttanesca (Tarts Spaghetti)
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 2
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Effort: easy



  • 250 g spaghetti, or more if you are hungry
  • 3 drops olive oil
  • 1 pinches salt

For the sauce

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 red chillies, deseeded and chopped
  • 2 tsp basil, fresh, chopped
  • 50 g anchovy fillets, drained
  • 175 g pitted black olives, chopped
  • 1 tbsp capers, drained
  • 450 g tomatoes, skinned and chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée, rounded
  • 1 pinches black pepper

For the garnish

  • 2 tbsp basil, fresh, chopped
  • 4 tbsp parmesan, (Parmigiano Reggiano), freshly grated


1. To make the sauce, heat the oil in a medium saucepan, then add the garlic, chilli and basil and cook these briefly till the garlic is pale gold. Then add all the other sauce ingredients, stir and season with a little pepper - but no salt yet because of the anchovies.

2. Turn the heat to low and let the sauce simmer very gently without a lid for 40 minutes, by which time it will have reduced to a lovely thick mass, with very little liquid left.

3. While the sauce is cooking, take your largest saucepan, fill it with at least 2.25 litres of hot water and bring it up to a gentle simmer. Add a few drops of olive oil and a little salt and then, 8 minutes before the sauce is ready, plunge the spaghetti into the water. Stir well to prevent it clogging together, then time it for exactly 8 minutes.

4. After that drain it in a colander, return it to the saucepan presto pronto, and toss the sauce in it, adding the basil. Mix thoroughly and serve in well-heated bowls, with lots of grated Parmesan to sprinkle over - and have plenty of gutsy, 'tarty' Italian red wine to wash it down.

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