Spaghetti alla Siracusana

Spaghetti with Capers and Yellow Pepper


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

This simple recipe from the ancient and atmospheric city of Siracusa makes for a delicious and very attractive pasta dish. Only the sweetest, juiciest yellow peppers, such as those that grow in rich profusion all over Sicily, should be used to achieve the right intensity of sweet, slightly peppery flavour.


  • 1 large yellow bell pepper
  • 120 ml/4 fl oz/½ cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
  • 3 large, salted anchovies, washed, dried and boned
  • 1 large aubergine/eggplant, peeled and cubed
  • 275 g/10 oz ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut in quarters
  • 4 black olives, pitted and chopped
  • 4 green olives, pitted and chopped
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, torn into shreds
  • 15-20 ml/3-4 tsp salted capers, rinsed, dried and chopped
  • 400 g/14 oz dried spaghetti
  • sea salt (optional)


  1. Roast the bell pepper over a naked flame or under a hot grill or broiler, turning it frequently until the skin blisters and is blackened all over. Put the pepper in a bowl, cover the bowl with clear film or plastic wrap and set aside.

  2. Heat the oil in a pan and add the garlic. As soon as the garlic turns brown, lift it out with a slotted spoon and discard.

  3. Add the anchovies to the flavoured oil and cook for 2-3 minutes, mashing them with a wooden spoon until they form a smooth purée.
  4. Pull off the skin from the pepper, removing any stubborn pieces with a sharp knife. Cut in half, remove the seeds and membranes and chop the flesh into small squares. Add these to the anchovy mixture with the aubergine and tomatoes.
  5. Stir in the olives, basil and capers, with a little salt, if needed, to taste. Cover the pan and simmer until the vegetables are soft.

  6. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the spaghetti and cook for 12-14 minutes until just tender. Drain the pasta and put it into a warmed bowl. Pour over the sauce, toss to mix, and serve.