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a yummy substitute for maccas: kleptoed spaghetti puttanesca

I absolutely love salty food. I have been known to add salt to everything, even when it really isn’t necessary – margaritas, fish, olives – the list goes on. I remember discovering Puttanesca pasta when I was a teenager and thinking it might be the best pasta ever created. The salty flesh of olives was so exquisite and the anchovies! I was in spasms of ecstasy.

I was also intrigued by its other name: “Whore’s Pasta”.  I’ve heard several explanations for this over the years, some of them very dirty and others resembling some kind of sense. One I enjoyed (and thought might be true) was the story of Italian prostitutes enticing the customers with the seductive aromas of the pasta; they would cook Puttanesca in the brothel with the windows open and let the smell waft onto the street, drawing in hungry and amorous customers. The fact that garlic has been known to have an aphrodisiac effect on people lends further credence to this theory.

The one theory that I think makes the most sense however is the one that states that the ingredients for Puttanesca are cheap (prostitutes are rarely incredibly wealthy), it is quick to prepare for the well-practised cook (the meal one could consume between clients) and the ingredients, like nuts, have a ‘slow energy’ release (ensuring the ladies ample energy to make love all night).

In any case, Puttanesca is lovely and easy to make (such a fantastic combination when confronted with the often daunting question ‘what shall I have for dinner?’). I have been doing some reading on the different styles and combinations of Puttanesca and have come up with a delightful recipe that draws on many different influences (hopefully not too heavy on the salt). Enjoy!


Olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 brown onion, diced
1 cup pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped
8 anchovies, chopped
3 tbsp capers
2 punnets cherry tomatoes, halved
3 little red chillis, chopped
½ cup fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
½ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 packet spaghetti, cooked in salted water according to the packet instructions


1. Heat a splash of olive oil in a sturdy based pan. Add the onion and garlic and sweat for five minutes (over low heat). Add the anchovies and cook for a further five minutes.

2. Add the cherry tomatoes, olives and capers and cook for about ten minutes over medium heat (until the skin of the tomatoes starts to loosen).

3. Finally, add the chilli and fresh herbs and cook for 1-2 minutes (allow the basil to wilt slightly).

4. Spoon over a bowl of spaghetti and enjoy!

By Emma Robinson

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