Spaghettini Puttanesca (PPN #222)

summary: Spaghettini Puttanesca is the perfect dish for hot weather; information about Presto Pasta Nights (PPN); (click on image to see larger views and more photos)

puttanesca As soon as it gets hot outside, we suddenly crave Spaghettini Puttanesca, a dish is not unsimilar to penne with fried dried peppers – there just aren’t any bread crumbs and the blackened peppers are dried chili peppers (the ones available in IndiaTown; we think they are cayenne).

Mmmm!! Served with a crisp green salad, this is the perfect dish for a hot summer’s night.

Now, obviously, tomatoes aren’t exactly ripening on the vine here yet. But our brilliant local vegetable store proprieter often has very ripe (as in almost over-ripe) tomatoes in boxes of 4 or 5 for $1. Sure, when we get the box home, we invariably find at least a couple of black spots or ugly blemishes strategically hidden from view at the store. But after cutting off the rotten parts, these tomatoes are ideal for making sauce.

We had this Puttanesca dish a few weeks ago on one of the first warm nights this summer. But it’s really hot and humid now!!! It was already 24C at 7 this morning and today’s forecast is for 32C with a distinct possibility of thunderstorms this evening. Our basil plants are thriving. I think we might neeeeeed to have Spaghettini Puttanesca again tonight. I’ll wade through the heat to the vegetable store in hopes of finding a box of over-ripe tomatoes. Wish me luck!


One of the things I really love about summer is that I can waltz through the garden and pinch off a few basil leaves to use as garnish. In this case, we garnished with purple basil and genovese basil leaves.

No big surprise. Once again, dinner was delicious.

Presto Pasta Nights - every FridayPresto Pasta Nights
Ruth (Once Upon a Feast) created this lovely event for people to share their favourite pasta dishes. Tandy (Lavender & Lime) is hosting this week.

For complete details on how to participate in Presto Pasta Nights (PPN), please read the following:


I wandered around the internet to find out about the origins of this dish. The literal translation of alla puttanesca is “in the style of the prostitutes”. There doesn’t seem to be much agreement on exactly how, where or when the dish originated but my personal guess is that it has been made for centuries by anyone in the south of Italy who doesn’t have a lot of money and happens to have access to tomatoes, garlic, capers, olives and anchovies. In spite of the dish’s lack of provenance, take a look at this set of rules from Italyum for making Puttanesca:

[S]tay away from the temptation of using Parmesan or Pecorino cheese (you would spoil the flavours) and do not use herbs like oregano or basil (it won’t be a puttanesca!).

-Italyum, Italian recipes – Spaghetti with puttanesca sauce (a.k.a. Spaghetti alla puttanesca)

Oh oh!! Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone that we put the basil on our plates. Otherwise, we won’t know what to call the dish!

edit 15 July 2011: Tandy has posted the Presto Pasta Nights 222 Roundup… mmmmmmm pasta galore!!!

This entry was posted in food & drink, main course, pasta, PPN; YeastSpotting, MLLA, Bookmarks; T&C on by .

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5 responses to “Spaghettini Puttanesca (PPN #222)

  1. katie

    I always argue with mon mari – telling him to leave off the cheese! He never listens….Sigh….

    You’re right – it would be (is) perfect for summer!

    Katie, ever since we were chastised for asking for cheese to go with a pasta dish in Italy, we have been very careful to steer clear of cheese unless it’s traditional for the dish. We’re mortally afraid that the Italians will come after us, even this far away in lowly Toronto, if we transgress. Having said that, sometimes, we do several shoulder checks and then surreptitiously throw on a little grated parmesan-like cheese. :-) -Elizabeth

  2. Couscous & Consciousness

    I love Spaghetti alla Puttanesca any time of year – I never before knew though that you shouldn’t add parmesan. Great to learn something new, though I suspect that some might still find it’s way onto my plate :-)

    I do too, Sue. But T associates Spaghetti alla Puttanesca with hot summer days so we usually have it then. I confess that I didn’t know that parmesan wasn’t supposed to be added until I read Italyum page. So, if you won’t tell about the parmesan that might end up on my plate, I won’t tell about the parmesan that might end up on yours. :lalala: -Elizabeth

  3. Bill Edell

    I discovered your website while looking for a recipe for one of my true passions, Soupe de Poisson, and think your website is very interesting but I am very disappointed to hear that you suggest vegetable or Chicken stock in your recipe. Why serve chicken soup when the name of the dish is FISH SOUP!!!! Not good, not good at all never rien… With love and a suggestion that you at least do a Google translation of your dishes before suggesting Chicken stock for a seafood dish. Bill Edell
    PS also look at Julia Child’s easy recipe for the garnish, hint, she didn’t oesn’t use mayonaise

    Well, of course you are right, Bill; a correct soupe de poisson is made with fish stock. But here in land-locked Toronto, our soupe de poisson recipe produces a quite reasonable facsimile and because it contains fish, we think it’s perfectly alright to call it “soupe de poisson” using the same principle of calling a soup made with broccoli and chicken stock “broccoli soup”. (ewwwww, imagine broccoli soup made with broccoli stock!! :-)) Incidentally, I hope you won’t hold soupe de poisson recipe against us and will try the spaghettini puttanesca even though it too (no doubt) is likely an ersatz version. -Elizabeth, who hopes fervently that Julia Child would have approved heartily of our rouille….

  4. T

    Our soupe de poisson is essentially the one shown in the video below ***, we just go about it in a slightly different way that’s all. First we make the soupe base, add wine and stock and pass it through a food mill. Then, at the end of the process, we poach whole pieces of boned fish in the soup giving the soup that wonderful fish flavour.

    Because there’s really no such thing as junk fish here in Toronto, we use only the best quality fish and because we don’t want to pass good quality fish through the mill we actually end up with a kind of soupe de poisson/bouillabaisse. In the video you’ll see Julia suggests using just plain water if you don’t have fish stock – not for me. And you’re right; chicken stock would never find its way into a traditional recipe. But in this household we often buck tradition in favor of flavour. Its use only adds another level of richness and complexity.

    While some traditions make a rouille using oil and fresh bread crumbs, pls Google search “rouille recipe”. Hint, of the first 7 hits, 5 use egg yolk and oil – the building blocks of mayonnaise.

    *** See Julia Child at Our soupe is easily as good and I’m sorry I don’t have an opportunity to serve her some of ours. I know she’d be delighted. Instead of canned pimento or red pepper, we add saffron and a few red chili flakes to our rouille – the way we had it on one occasion in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. I bet she’d love that too.


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