Pasta Puttanesca straight from the store cupboard

Hmm what on earth can we have for tea today..? Old mother Hubbard had a bare cupboard as well but don’t despair there are always meals to be made and can be thrown together at the last minute. This pasta sauce is made from tinned tomatoes, tinned anchovies, black olives and capers- all great store cupboard standbys. Splash out on the best quality tinned tomatoes as they are the main ingredient.

Eating’ in’ is, apparently, the new eating ‘out’ and I’m all for it. Don’t get me started on my favourite grump- poor restaurant food. I’m not talking fancy or sophisticated but just good food, freshly prepared, good quality ingredients, well presented and served with a, please. I could do without the ‘enjoy’ but this is taking  my grumpiness to the next level.  Here is an ‘eating in’ dish that you can make in 20 minutes and the ‘bill’ will be very easy on your wallet.



Serves 4


For the sauce:

4 tbsp. olive oil

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped finely

½ tsp dried chilli flakes

1 tin of anchovy fillets in oil

2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes e.g. Napoli.

80g pitted black olives (plus some extra to garnish)

1 tbsp. capers, drained and chopped small 

1 tbsp. sugar

Plenty of freshly ground black pepper (no salt as the anchovies are salty)


400g dried pasta (100g dried past/person is a generous serving)

1.  Heat the olive oil in a small pan and gently cook the garlic and the chilli flakes for 2 or 3 minutes.

2.  Chop up the anchovy fillets finely-this is easy to do without taking them out of the tin which is messy- open the tin and then use the tips of the scissors into the tin to cut them up roughly. Add the anchovies, with the oil, and cook for a few minutes.

3.  Add the tins of chopped tomatoes.  Chop up the capers roughly and halve the black olives and add to pan. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Leave to cook for 20 minutes or so until the sauce is reduced by about a third.

4. Cook the pasta in a large roomy pan. Use lots of water, add some salt and when it is boiling hard add the dried pasta. Stir once and then leave alone-it should continue to boil furiously which means that it won’t stick to the bottom.  Cook for about 10 minutes-check on the packet as cooking times will vary. The pasta should be just ‘al dente’-meaning it should still have a little bite to it.

5. When the pasta is ready divide it between 4 warmed bowls and then add a dollop of the sauce on top.  Sprinkle some chopped black olives over each serving.



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