Spaghetti Puttanesca

4.76 stars

Spaghetti with olives and capers is known as Spaghetti Puttanesca in Italy and is great for spring, summer or after work. This light and simple dish consisting of tomatoes, olives, capers and garlic is definitely a to-go dish for a fast and fulfilling meal.

Preparation 10 mins
Cooking 20 mins


Spaghetti with olives and capers

Malaysian, Singaporean


250 g spaghetti
1⁄4 tsp salt
1 yellow onion(s)
2 garlic clove(s)
24 cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
15 g capers
4 peppers (preserved)
30 g olives

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Spaghetti Puttanesca has an impolite story because of its name. ‘Puttanesca’ literally translated means whore. Originating from Naples, prostitutes were said to cook and serve this spaghetti dish using simple ingredients to lure their new customers. It might be a myth. However, I assure you, this dish is definite must-try. A friend who lives in Italy (who cooks exceptionally great Italian food) generously shared this recipe with me. No exact measurements of the ingredients were given but I somehow figured out the correct amount. We enjoyed it so much and it has now became a staple dish at home. My husband loves it because of the olives and the delectable sauce while I enjoy cooking this due to its simplicity. There you go, a happy meal with very little effort.

Can capers and olives be substituted?

Unfortunately not as capers and olives are the main flavours in spaghetti puttanesca. Capers which are pickled flower buds are generally salty. This also applies to pickled olives which are equally salty. Therefore, no salt is needed in the preparation of this dish.

Can preserved peppers be substituted?

Yes. Since the preserved peppers are added for its spiciness, they may be substituted with chilli powder or dried chillies. If you are unable to stomach spiciness, go easy on the preserved peppers. In this recipe, I used 4 of them which caused the dish to be rather spicy. With an additional dash of black pepper, this dish is good to go.

Steps to Prepare

Spaghetti Puttanesca Step 1

Step 1 of 3

    • 250 g spaghetti
    • 1⁄4 tsp salt

Boil spaghetti with a pinch of salt until al dente. Refer to packaging for instructions.

Spaghetti Puttanesca Step 2

Step 2 of 3

    • 1 yellow onion(s)
    • 2 garlic clove(s)
    • 24 cherry tomatoes
    • 2 tbsp olive oil

Sauté chopped onions and garlic with olive oil at low to medium heat until fragrant. Do not overheat or it would turn bitter. Add halved cherry tomatoes and cover the pan. Allow them to cook, stirring every 5 minutes until they softened.

Spaghetti Puttanesca Step 3

Step 3 of 3

    • 15 g capers
    • 4 peppers (preserved)
    • 30 g olives

Add capers, olives and preserved peppers. Mix evenly. Turn off the stove. Add al dente spaghetti to the sauce. Mix well.

Published: April 17, 2016

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