Fettuccine Alla Puttanesca


Puttanesca means ‘in the style of the whores’, supposedly because it was much favoured by working girls as a late night pick-me-up. Using a food processor, this sauce takes only seconds to make, and is thus pretty neat for all kinds of workers.


  • 12 stoned black olives
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 6 anchovy fillets
  • 2 tbsp capers, rinsed
  • 8 basil leaves
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 150 ml/ ¼ pt extra-virgin olive oil
  • 350 g/ 12 oz pasta noodles
  • 4 ripe plum tomatoes
  • flat-leaved parsley, to garnish
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve


The day before or at least 6 hours before you want to eat, put the olives in a food processor with the garlic, anchovies, capers, basil, shallots, pepper and olive oil. Pulse-chop briefly to a coarse purée, scraping down the sides in between chopping. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate.

Cook the noodles in lots of rapidly boiling salted water, checking they are done after 8 minutes, then at 30-second intervals, until cooked al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, scald the tomatoes in boiling water, refresh in cold water and skin. Cut the tomatoes into quarters, strip out the pulp and cut the flesh into small dice.

Put the chilled puttanesca mixture into a large frying pan and heat through over a moderate heat.

Drain the pasta quickly, returning it to the pan while it still has a little water adhering to it. Add the puttanesca sauce and diced tomatoes and toss together.

Serve immediately in large warmed bowls, garnished with plenty of flat-leaved parsley and with freshly grated Parmesan.