Pasta Puttanesca: The Whore’s Spaghetti

Long, long ago in Italy, the fine upstanding women of society decided that it was beneath them to shop in the markets alongside the ladies of the night, if you will. They insisted that these working girls had their own shopping day. Of course, they were not willing to go for a 50/50 split which left these hoes with one measly day per week to hit the grocery. Now, from what I understand, many of these women fed their hungry Johns as part of their service. This meant that they needed to be creative in what they bought. Items that would last a week were ideal. Many of them kept small gardens but that would not be sufficient for the volume of, err… clientele. The women would buy things such as cured meats and fish such as anchovies. Cured olives and capers were also staples, as were sun dried tomatoes, dried herbs, pastas and aged cheeses. From these ingredients and the necessity of longevity (which was hopefully re-payed by the Johns, ahem), came the simple and delicious Italian dish, Pasta Puttanesca. Or, spaghetti the way a whore would make it. There is another, less colorful school of origin for this sauce. Some people say that it’s called “Puttanesca” simply because it’s got everything in it, much like these hard working Italian broads that I spoke of!

The sauce is started with roughly chopped sun dried tomatoes sautéed with anchovies. Anchovies??? NO!!! I hear you! You’re ready to close this link and move on, but have I ever steered you wrong? There is a little bit of magic in that tiny can of preserved fish. When you sauté the filets in their own oil, the flavor becomes earthy and almost nutty. Trust me! Spread your proverbial wings and treat your taste buds to something special. Treat yourself to the whores spaghetti! They worked hard for that pasta!

You will need the following:

  • 5oz pitted calamata olives, crushed and roughly chopped
  • 5oz sun dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
  • 2oz can of anchovies with oil
  • 15oz can crushed tomatoes or a cup or so fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. capers (I don’t care for capers so, I left them out)
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. dried basil
  • 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • S & P to taste
  • 1 lbs. whole wheat spaghetti, prepared


  1. Pour anchovies and oil into a hot skillet, sauté until grainy and liquified. Add chopped sun dried tomatoes and garlic, cook over medium high heat until tender.
  2. Place remaining ingredients into the pan and simmer until fragrant and heated through.
  3. Toss with pasta and serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

This is another SUPER quick and ultra simple recipe for a weeknight dinner. You can add bell peppers, or subtract olives. You can use fresh herbs if you have them and ditch the onions! There is no right or wrong. Enjoy your spaghetti, the way a whore would make it!



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