Pasta Puttanesca

I’ve just received a slow cooker as a birthday present from my good friend Lewis, its fantastic because it allows me to braise meat and stews for a long time without having to be in the house. When I’m working all day I can have my dinner slowly cooking for when I get back. I make tomato sauce with the slow cooker; tinned tomatoes, onion, garlic, and tomato puree simmered gently for several hours until it is dark and reduced. I then puree and pass it through a fine sieve to make it extra smooth. What you get is an amazingly rich dark red sauce. This can be used for any number of things, but my current favourite is to make salty pungent puttanesca with it. This sauce is accompanied by spaghetti; literally “whore’s style spaghetti”, it’s packed with in-your-face flavours. Traditionally made with tomatoes, garlic, black olives, anchovies and capers, it’s salty and more-ish. It’s a good dish to have in your repertoire; because it’s made almost entirely with store cupboard ingredients it can be rustled up with just a moment’s notice, although in my recipe the tomato sauce is simmered for eight hours to make it extra rich. This isn’t essential but will make your sauce taste amazing. I recommend making a big batch of sauce and freezing it. As there are so many big and bold flavours going on here, I have added a good handful of parsley and basil to bring some freshness to the dish and vital splash of green, making it particularly eye-catching.


  • 2 400g tins of peeled plum tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons of tomato puree
  • 1 onion
  • 5 large cloves of garlic
  • 1 glass of red wine
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 large handful of pitted black olives
  • 6 anchovy fillets
  • 1 large bunch of flat leaf parsley
  • 1 handful of basil leaves
  • 400g of tagliatelle
  1. To make the tomato sauce; finely slice the onion and sweat in a couple of glugs of olive oil with a generous pinch of salt until the onions are completely softened. Now finely chop the garlic cloves and add to the pot along with the tomatoes, tomato puree, sugar and red wine. Bring to the boil, then gently simmer for about 8 hours until the sauce is rich and dark. Puree the sauce in a blender and pass through a fine sieve. it should be fairly thick so that it coats the pasta nicely. If it’s too thin, simmer it gently to reduce further. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

  2. Cook your pasta according to the packet instructions while you finish the sauce: finely chop the anchovy fillets and gently fry in a little olive oil until they start to disintegrate, then add the tomato sauce and stir. Slice the olives and add to the sauce. Finely chop the parsley and roughly chop the basil and add to the sauce at the very end. When the pasta is ready, stir the sauce in; add just enough to coat the pasta nicely, it should be really thick. Serve with some red wine and crusy bread. Fantastic!