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Spaghetti alla puttanesca

Spaghetti alla puttanesca

PT40M

In the 1950s Sandro Petti was the owner of a popular restaurant on Ischia called Rancho Fellone. This restaurant-come-nightclub quickly became frequented by the dolce vita who would enjoy summers on the island. One night, Sandro had some hungry customers arrive late begging him to rustle something up from the kitchen. Although he had run out of food he didn’t want to disappoint his guests so he pulled together what he could from his bare cupboards – olives, anchovies, olive oil, garlic and a few tomatoes. These ingredients were thrown together and served with spaghetti. The guests were obsessed with this delicious meal and Sandro shrugged it off as nothing special Those guests went on to spread the word and came back to eat it every night. Later, this throw-together dish evolved to be known as Spaghetti alla puttanesca, which many translate as ‘whore’s pasta’. Davide Conte, who lives on the island, and knows Sandro well, told me this wonderful story. Sadly, on this trip, I missed the opportunity to meet Sandro but Davide tells me that Sandro is still surprised when he thinks back to that night when he was in a rush in his kitchen. He could never have imagined that what he was about to create would be a dish to go down in Italian history.

1
To begin, place the oil reserved from the anchovies in a large pan and place over a medium heat. Once hot, cook the garlic and chilli in the oil for 2 minutes
2
Add the olives, capers, cherry tomatoes, anchovies and white wine to the pan, stir well and cook for 5–6 minutes
3
After this time, stir in the tinned tomatoes and bring to the boil. Simmer for approximately 10 minutes
4
Taste the sauce to check the seasoning, then stir in more chilli, the balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper if required
5
Cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions. Once cooked, drain the spaghetti, reserving a ladleful of the pasta water
6
Add the pasta water to the sauce to loosen it slightly, then stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice and basil. Stir in the spaghetti so everything is coated in the sauce
7
Serve immediately, either on 1 serving platter or on 2 plates

Recipes from NINA Capri by Nina Parker, published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson on 2 June 2016 in hardback at £25, eBook £12.99

Food photography: Paul Winch-Furness

Location photography: Ivar Wigan

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