The naughtily named spaghetti alla Puttanesca, literally whore’s spaghetti, is a perfect 'I’ve-got-nothing-in-the-fridge-and-I-can’t-be-bothered-to-go-to-the-shop’ solution. Garlic, tomato, olives, capers, chilli, spaghetti. Easy peasy.
So what’s with the name?
There are different theories. The most interesting story is that it was created by the working girls in the brothels of Naples in the 1950s, because it was cheap and fast to put together.
The other explanation makes interesting reading too. The word 'puttana' - literally ‘whore’, is often used as a general swearword, and in the case of puttanata is used to mean something like ‘bullsh*t’. A story goes that when a restauranteur in Ischia, an island in the gulf of Naples, was asked to cook for some guests, he found his cupboards bare and grudgingly told them he had nothing for them. They replied, just knock up any old ‘puttanata’ - any old crap. All he had was a few capers, olives, tomatoes etc, and Spaghetti all Puttanesca was born!
Feeling lazy? A bit skint? Want something super tasty? Knock up a Puttanesca!
Throw some spaghetti in a pan of salted boiling water - around 100g per person. While it’s cooking, fry off chopped garlic (about half a clove per person) and a pinch of dried chilli in some good olive oil. Add anchovies (a couple per person), a handful of olives and capers, and finally add the tomatoes. Your tomato element can be some freshly chopped toms, some good old tinned, a passata, or even a bit of paste. Add your cooked spaghetti to the sauce and give it a good mix around. Add a little of the pasta water, another drizzle of oil and a sprinkling of fresh parsley if you have it, no biggie if not. Simple as that. Your whoreish pasta is served!