Spaghetti alla puttanesca is one of the humblest pastas out there. There's no meat or long simmering time to contend with. Instead, the tomato-based sauce gets big punches of flavor from a trio of salty, briny powerhouses: olives, anchovies, and capers. The resulting tangle of saucy noodles is deeply satisfying. As if this dish needed anything else to make it more appealing, almost all of the ingredients can be found in the pantry or condiment section of your refrigerator.
To make this as weeknight-friendly as possible, we're sharing a shortcut to make your life just a little bit easier: cooking everything together in one pot.
Prep While Simmering
This dish comes together in about the same amount of time it takes to normally boil a pot of water and cook spaghetti. There's a bit of chopping involved, but you can do it in stages: Chop the garlic and anchovy first, and then start cooking. Once the pasta is in the pot — and yes, the dried pasta goes right in! — do the final chopping of olives, parsley, and capers. In fact, just pile everything onto the cutting board and chop it all together!
To make sure the pasta is evenly cooked, make sure to stir it occasionally and always keep it submerged in liquid. The magic happens when the spaghetti releases its starch and helps thicken the sauce so that it clings to every strand. When you reach that point, your one-pot pasta dinner awaits, and we wouldn't mind one bit if you eat it directly out of the pot.
One-Pot Pasta Puttanesca
3 tablespoons olive oil
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 anchovy fillets, finely chopped (about 2 1/2 teaspoons chopped)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 3/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1 pound dry spaghetti
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pitted olives
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup drained capers, coarsely chopped
Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the garlic, anchovy, and pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and their juices, water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the spaghetti, and simmer, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot, until the pasta is al dente and the sauce thickens and clings to it, about 12 minutes. Add the olives, parsley, and capers, and toss to combine. Taste and season with more salt as needed.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.