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Milk Street Recipe
Milk Street Bowtie Spaghetti Puttanesca

Spaghetti Puttanesca

25 minutes

Free

We think of puttanesca as a long-simmered dish built on anchovies. But in Naples, where the dish originates, it's a simple, bold skillet sauce made in minutes. And instead anchovies, Neapolitans add briny-savory flavor with two varieties of olives plus capers. We call for a generous amount of capers, which often are sold in small bottles or jars. When shopping, you will need two 4-ounce bottles to get the ½ cup drained capers needed for this recipe. So that the spaghetti is extra-flavorful and each noodle is seasoned throughout, we boil it in water for just 5 minutes—it will be underdone at the center—then finish cooking it directly in the sauce.

Kosher salt and ground black pepper
12 ounces spaghetti
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
1/2 cup pitted green olives, roughly chopped
1/2 cup (two 4-ounce bottles) drained capers, rinsed, patted dry and chopped
28 -ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, drained, 1 cup juices reserved, tomatoes crushed by hand into small pieces
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil, chopped
1 ounce Parmesan or pecorino romano cheese, grated (½ cup), plus more to serve
Ingredients
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 12

    ounces spaghetti

  • 2

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 3

    medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

  • 1

    teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • ½

    cup pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped

  • ½

    cup pitted green olives, roughly chopped

  • ½

    cup (two 4-ounce bottles) drained capers, rinsed, patted dry and chopped

  • 28

    -ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, drained, 1 cup juices reserved, tomatoes crushed by hand into small pieces

  • ½

    cup lightly packed fresh basil, chopped

  • 1

    ounce Parmesan or pecorino romano cheese, grated (½ cup), plus more to serve

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Spaghetti Puttanesca

Get Ready to Cook

4

Servings

25 minutes

Tip

Don't use more than 2 quarts of water to boil the pasta; the idea is to concentrate the starches in the cooking water, which is later used to thicken the sauce.

Ingredients
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 12

    ounces spaghetti

  • 2

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 3

    medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

  • 1

    teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • ½

    cup pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped

  • ½

    cup pitted green olives, roughly chopped

  • ½

    cup (two 4-ounce bottles) drained capers, rinsed, patted dry and chopped

  • 28

    -ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, drained, 1 cup juices reserved, tomatoes crushed by hand into small pieces

  • ½

    cup lightly packed fresh basil, chopped

  • 1

    ounce Parmesan or pecorino romano cheese, grated (½ cup), plus more to serve

Step 1 of 4

Cook the pasta

1
tablespoon kosher salt
12
ounces spaghetti

In a large pot, bring 2 quarts water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the spaghetti, then cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Reserve 2 cups of cooking water, then drain and set aside.

Step 2 of 4

Cook the sauce

1
tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3
medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1
teaspoon red pepper flakes
½
cup pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
½
cup pitted green olives, roughly chopped
½
cup (two 4-ounce bottles) drained capers, rinsed, patted dry and chopped
28
-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, drained, 1 cup juices reserved, tomatoes crushed by hand into small pieces

In a 12-inch skillet over medium, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and garlic cloves, then cook, stirring often, until the garlic is light golden brown, about 1 minute.


Off heat, remove and discard the garlic. Add the pepper flakes, both types of olives and the capers, then cook over medium-high, stirring, until the capers begin to brown, about 1 minute.


Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes.

Step 3 of 4

Toss the pasta in the sauce

Add the reserved tomato juice and 1 cup of the reserved cooking water; bring to a simmer. Add the pasta and toss to coat. Cover and cook, tossing occasionally, until the pasta is al dente and the sauce clings lightly to the noodles; add more cooking water if needed.

Step 4 of 4

Serve with cheese

½
cup lightly packed fresh basil, chopped
1
ounce Parmesan or pecorino romano cheese, grated (½ cup), plus more to serve
1
tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 3 minutes. Stir in the basil, cheese and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Taste and season with salt and black pepper. Serve topped with additional cheese.

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