Spicy Puttanesca Pasta

For years we’ve been making this Southern Italian classic pasta alla Puttanesca. A well known combination of tomatoes, olives and capers that transforms into one of the most delicious sauces we like to eat with just about anything. When we discovered a slightly varied version from Ottolenghi ‘s Simple cookbook, we knew we had to try it. We’re officially hooked. Not only does the harissa paste add spice, but it has a warming heat that adds depth to the sauce. We keep it easy with pantry staples of canned tomatoes, but sub in equal amount of halved cherry tomatoes to keep it simple like Ottolenghi.



Serves 4-6


2 Tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 Tbsp harissa paste

1 Tsp granulated sugar

1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes

1 Tbsp capers

1/3 cup black Kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped

500g long pasta, such as pappardelle or linguine

½ lemon

¼ cup flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped

Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste


1. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add onion and cook until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and harissa paste, stirring well to combine. Add tomatoes and half of the can’s worth of water. Sprinkle over sugar and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Cook the pasta according to package instructions, until al dente. Drain well, reserving ½ cup of pasta water.

3. Add the pasta directly into the sauce, using some of the pasta water to loosen it slightly. Season with a squeeze of lemon juice. Divide between bowls and serve with chopped parsley and a good drizzle of oil.