Typical of Naples, spaghetti alla puttanesca is popular in Italy and abroad for good reason. The secret is in the simple yet tasty sauce with chilli flakes, tomatoes, olives and capers. Don't forget to reserve some of the pasta cooking water to finish the dish.
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 pinch red chilli flakes
4 to 5 medium-sized ripe tomatoes, chopped
50g black olives, pitted and chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
15g fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 fresh basil leaves, chopped
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In a large saucepan, sautè the garlic in the olive oil over medium low heat until just golden. Discard the garlic, then add the chilli flakes, tomatoes, olives and capers to the hot oil. Let cook for 5 to 6 minutes over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in a large pan with plenty of boiling salted water. When very 'al dente', ie still quite firm, drain the spaghetti, reserving some of the cooking water.
Add drained spaghetti to the pan with the sauce. Stir and cook over medium heat for a minute or two, adding some pasta water in order to keep the mixture moist and not too dry. Serve straightaway.
A few tips to perfectly cook pasta, as Italians would do: use a large amount of water, around 1L per 100g of pasta; add the pasta only when the water is boiling, stir, then bring back to the boil, stirring from time to time. Cook 1 minute less than the time suggested on the packet; drain and reserve some of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the sauce and finish cooking, adding some of the reserved water as needed. Serve straightaway! Also, never rinse pasta, you'll lose the starch needed to keep it moist.