Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Cook, Meat-Free Mains, Recipes, Vegetarian, Weeknight Dinner

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Here’s a wonderful way to use your home-canned tomatoes for a taste of summer in the chilly months. This simple dish can be made almost entirely from pantry staples, so it’s ideal for quick meals during this busy time of year. Our version skips anchovies, so it’s also completely vegetarian.


Spaghetti alla Puttanesca


1 1/2 lb. (750 g.) diced canned tomatoes with their juices (or ripe fresh tomatoes, cored, seeded and chopped)

2 Tbs. chopped red or  yellow onion

1/2 cup (1/2 oz./15 g.) firmly packed fresh basil leaves, coarsely torn


1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz./45 g.) chopped pitted Gaeta or other Mediterranean-style black olives

2 Tbs. chopped, rinsed capers

2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for serving

1/2 lb. (250 g.) spaghetti

1 1/2 Tbs. butter or extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly grated Parmesan or grana padano cheese for serving


In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the tomatoes, onion, half of the basil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the tomatoes from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add the olives, capers and parsley and simmer for about 1 minute longer. At this point, the mixture should be fairly thick. If it is still watery, simmer for about 5 minutes longer. Taste and adjust the seasoning.


Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Taste and add more salt if necessary.


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, according to the package directions.


Just before the pasta is ready, reheat the sauce until hot and remove from the heat. Stir the remaining basil leaves into the sauce along with the butter. Drain the pasta and transfer to a shallow serving bowl. Add the sauce, toss to combine, top with more parsley, and serve, passing the cheese at the table. Serves 2.


Williams-Sonoma Two In The Kitchen Cookbook

Find more recipes for everyday and special occasions in our cookbook Two in the Kitchen, by Jordan Mackay and Christie Dufault.

5 comments about “Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

  1. Claire Ann Peetz Blog Spaghetti alla Puttanesca - Claire Ann Peetz Blog

    1. Taft

      I wonder if the basil should be 1/2 cup…the font doens’t line up with the other ingredients as if a character was left out?

  2. Williams-Sonoma Post author

    Hi Mary and Taft, apologies for the confusion — yes, it should be 1/2 cup basil. The recipe has been updated accordingly. Thank you and enjoy!

  3. Michael

    Vegan diets aside, I beleive that leaving out the anchovies is a sacrilege. Although they’re not to everyone’s taste, anchovies add a base flavor to your sauce without overwhelming it. You can even add shrimp, scallops, calamari or jarred Italian tuna for a great entre.


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