Pasta puttanesca

Photographer: Emma
Serves 4-6

There was once a time when I could spend a whole afternoon in the kitchen.  Uninterrupted.  Undistracted.  These days I’m lucky if my culinary forays last more than forty-five minutes.  My pots are often found upturned on the kitchen floor and my wooden spoons now have a double life; used sometimes to stir the evening meal and at other times as drumsticks, held in our sons tiny hands as they tap away a happy rhythm. I would have it no other way.  When he tires of the pots and wooden spoons he lunges forwards and crawls on all fours (only a very recent development!) to my feet where he carefully reaches up to my knees, pulling himself to his feet.  At this point it’s all over really.  I’m too much of a softie and I can’t resist the temptation to scoop him up in my arms and balance him on one hip while I continue on to cook dinner with my free hand!

So this month I share with you Pasta Puttanesca, a dish that can (almost) be cooked single handedly.  It only takes ten minutes to prepare the onions, garlic and chillis and open the tins of tomatoes before Sweet Distractions come tugging at the apron strings!

What I love about this dish is that it contains very few ingredients, is quick to make and so deliciously tasty.  And even better, my Sweet Distraction loves it too!


Puttanesca sauce
Olive oil
1 red onion, sliced into fine wedges
3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
150g Kalamata olives, pitted and cut in two
3 tbsp capers
2 x 400g tins tomatoes
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup red wine
Salt & pepper to taste

To serve
500g spiral pasta
Parmesan, grated
Parsley, chopped


  1. Heat a heavy bottomed fry pan over a medium heat and gently fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil until it softens and become translucent. Then add the chilli, olives and capers and fry for a further minute or two.
  2. Add the tomatoes, brown sugar and red wine and then season to taste and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer for approximately 30 minutes or more or until the sauce thickens. The longer you cook it the more the flavours will develop.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta. When cooked, drain the pasta and divide it between 4-6 plates. Spoon the puttanesca sauce on top of the pasta then sprinkle with chopped parsley and grated parmesan.