Pasta Puttanesca Bianca

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Pasta Puttanesca Bianca

How to make 'white' pasta alla puttanesca, an Italian classic minus the tomatoes

Have you ever tried puttanesca sauce without the tomatoes?

Puttanesca bianca is even easier to make than the spicy tomato sauce that's a staple of Italian kitchens. Naples native Silvana Lanzetta shares her family's recipe.

The simplest seasoning for pasta – yet full of flavour – this dish comes straight from the kitchens of the poorest peasants, who had very few ingredients to create a meal: olive oil, garlic and chilli.

Here I propose my father’s version of this traditional dish, a little richer and incredibly tasty, with anchovies, capers, olives and parsley.

It takes ten minutes to prepare, so it is a great choice for a last-minute meal.

Ingredients (four servings)

350 g spaghetti
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves
1 fresh red chilli
8 anchovy fillets (Optional)
2 tbsp capers
16 black (Tuscan or Kalamata) olives
2 tbsp chopped parsley


1. Fill a large pot with salted water (1 tsp salt for every litre of water) and bring to a boil. When the water is boiling, add the spaghetti and let it cook according to the instructions on the packet.

2. Pour the oil into a large pan and heat it gently on a low flame. Meanwhile, wash the chilli and remove all the seeds, then chop it finely together with the garlic. Add them to the oil and sauté for one minute, stirring occasionally.

3. Roughly chop the capers and the anchovies, stone and slice the olives, then add them to the pan. Let cook for three minutes, stirring frequently, until the anchovies start to melt. Remove from the heat, cover and set aside.

4. Finely chop the parsley.

5. When the pasta is two minutes away from the recommended cooking time, drain it, saving a little cooking water. Add the pasta to the pan, with 100ml of the saved liquid and a tablespoon of chopped parsley. Return it to high heat and sauté the spaghetti for two minutes, stirring continuously, until all the water has evaporated.

Serve immediately, sprinkled with the remaining parsley and accompanied by a Sauvignon Blanc or Trebbiano d’Abruzzo.

Silvana Lanzetta was born into a family of pasta makers from Naples and spent 17 years as a part-time apprentice in her grandmother’s pasta factory. She specializes in making pasta entirely by hand and runs regular classes in London.