Recipe + pairing | Julia Busuttil Nishimura's Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca

By Vinomofo
9 days ago
4 min read

This recipe for spaghetti alla puttanesca (from the Around the Table by the brilliant Julia Busuttil Nishimura) has become a real winner at many a mofo table - especially mid-week. And  it’s the perfect excuse to dig out a wine to pair, too.

Pairing tip: "This is a pairing you don’t need to overthink - a classic Italian tomato-based pasta absolutely deserves a classic Italian red wine to accompany. Mid-week I’d be opting for a bright red Chianti that’ll compliment and contrast against that bright sauce - or a McLaren Vale sangiovese if I’m looking for something grown closer to home. If I’m feeling a bit fancy at the weekend though, I’m reaching for a nebbiolo - Barolo or Barbaresco. Pure indulgence." - Nick

Try this with:

Casaponte Chianti DOCG 2022

Bright and crunchy, this is the cheeky upstart Chianti that could. Loads of red cherry and plum, juicy and lifted. This is on the lighter side for a Chianti, and sings all the right tunes: a little chalkiness, fruit fullness and the right amount of indifferent, upstart attitude. But unlike that adorable train from the classic children’s story, this is for adults only.

Massimo Rattalino Quarantadue42 Barbaresco DOCG 2015

Often compared to its brash and ballsy sibling, Barolo; Barbaresco is another beauty made with the king of hearty reds: nebbiolo. The complexity and depth of flavour is second to none, with heady aromas of roses and violets, alongside sweet, exotic spices and sprinkling of dusty cocoa. It’s that bit more versatile than Barolo, I find, and equally suited to a big, rich stew as it is to more delicate game and truffle dishes. It’ll age miraculously well, though there’s no need for Barolo’s 20-odd years before opening. This one is absolutely delightful now after a spin in the decanter, but will sit happily in the cellar for well over a decade.


Spaghetti alla puttanesca


  • 80 ml (½ cup) extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 3 parsley stalks

  • 1 dried red chilli

  • 4 anchovy fillets

  • 800 g canned whole peeled tomatoes, drained (about 400 g of tomatoes)

  • 320 g spaghetti

  • 1 tablespoon salted capers, rinsed and drained

  • 80 g olives, pitted

  • small handful of parsley, oregano or marjoram, leaves picked and roughly ­chopped

This is one of my absolute favourite pasta dishes to cook during the week. It relies heavily on pantry staples, which means I usually have everything I need at home to whip it up at a moment’s notice. The key is to perfume the oil with the garlic, parsley, chilli and anchovy before adding the tomatoes. You are rewarded with the most fragrant sauce with really such minimal effort.

Warm the olive oil in a large frying pan over very low heat and add the garlic and parsley stalks. Cook, stirring often, for 3–4 minutes. Be sure to cook the garlic very gently to ensure it doesn’t brown. It should just be soft and fragrant.

Crumble the chilli into the pan and add the anchovy fillets. Use the back of a wooden spoon to help break them up into the oil. They will melt into the oil and just become a wonderful flavouring for the sauce.

Increase the heat to medium and use your hands to crush the tomatoes into the pan. Use the back of a wooden spoon to help break up the tomatoes as they cook. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5–6­ minutes. The sauce should be slightly thickened and the tomatoes ­fairly broken down.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in plenty of salted boiling water until just before al dente. Drain, reserving some of the pasta cooking water­– around 250 ml (1­ cup) will be sufficient.

Just before the pasta is ready, add the capers and olives to the sauce, stir to combine and simmer for a minute. Add the spaghetti to the sauce and stir to coat. Add some of the reserved cooking water to loosen the sauce, if necessary, and cook until the pasta is al dente and well coated in the sauce. Stir through the herbs and serve.

This recipe is an extract from Around the Table by Julia Busuttil Nishimura, available now.

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