Spaghetti alla puttanesca is a popular Italian pasta dish enjoyed by many around the world. If you’ve ever wondered what the English translation is, you may be surprised to learn it means “whore’s style pasta”. The origin of the name is not clear, with Italians themselves being uncertain on the matter.

Spaghetti Puttanesca

The main theory is that it got its name because it is quick and easy to throw together, therefore a prostitute would have time to prepare it in between clients without losing business. It’s also said that the ingredients used in the sauce are those which a prostitute keeps in her cupboard.

My theory is that it was invented by a chef who was moonlighting as a prostitute to make some extra money because it’s tough to make a living on a chef’s salary. Am I right?! Anyone who’s worked in a kitchen can back me up on that one…

This dish is delicious nonetheless, regardless of how it got its name.

If I can give one word of advice with this recipe, it is to not skimp on the garlic. You will lose a lot of flavor if you hold back. The garlic flavor isn’t prominent in this dish, so if you’re not a lover of all things garlicky, no need to worry.


Spaghetti Puttanesca 3

Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca
Serves 2
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
  1. 200g Spaghetti (use gluten free pasta if necessary)
  2. 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  3. 2 cups sliced Onion
  4. 6 cloves Garlic, minced (¼ cup when minced)
  5. 1 small Jalapeno, seeds removed (optional)
  6. 1 tsp Salt
  7. ¼ tsp Black Pepper
  8. 1 tsp Chili Flakes
  9. 2 tsp Oregano
  10. 1 can (796ml) Whole Tomatoes
  11. 2 Tbsp Capers
  12. ¼ cup Black or Kalamata Olives
  13. 2 Tbsp Coconut Sugar
  14. Zest and Juice of 1-2 Limes
  15. Chopped Parsley to garnish
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add a pinch of salt and the pasta. Cook the pasta al dente. It's important to not cook it all the way. It will finish cooking in the pan with the sauce.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat a frying pan over medium high heat with the olive oil. Add the onions and cook 5-8 minutes or until they start to brown.
  3. Add the garlic and jalapeno if using. Cook 2 minutes, then add oregano, chili flakes, salt and pepper. Cook for another minute. Crush the tomatoes with your hands, then pour the contents into the pan. Continue crushing with the back of a wooden spoon.
  4. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Your pasta will be cooked by now (probably while the onions are cooking). Drain and rinse with cold water.
  6. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss. Add the olives, capers, coconut sugar, lime zest and juice. Toss for a few minutes.
  7. Taste and adjust seasoning. You may need to add more salt depending if the canned tomatoes contain salt.
  8. Plate the spaghetti and garnish with fresh chopped parsley. Serves 2.
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