Recipe Review

The Pasta Queen’s “Favorite Recipe of All Time” Is Mind-Blowingly Simple

published Jun 22, 2021
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Credit: Sara Tane

When I was growing up on Long Island, a lot of my friends in school shared an Italian heritage that I did not, and I was always so jealous. Mom, are you sure we’re not just a little Italian? Ingredients like capers, anchovies, olives, and Calabrian chiles never made an appearance in either of my parents’ cooking, so it wasn’t until I was an adult that I fully understood the pure deliciousness that these Italian delicacies could impart into a dish.

I cannot get enough of @the_pastaqueen’s TikTok videos and recipes, so when I saw that this Snappy Harlot pasta was not only chock-full of those signature Italian ingredients that I have come to know and love, but also that it’s her favorite recipe of all time, I had no other choice but to try it out for myself. As my non-existent Italian ancestors would say, andiamo!


Watch out for the Snappy Harlot, she’s coming for you #snappyharlot #puttanesca #justgorgeous

♬ original sound – The Pasta Queen

How to Make the Snappy Harlot Pasta

This is a pasta dish that calls for humble pantry ingredients and comes together in less than 20 minutes. To start, you’ll sauté some minced garlic, a few tablespoons of capers, and black olives in some olive oil. Then you’ll melt in a few anchovy fillets. Next, you’ll pour in crushed tomatoes and some Calabrian chili peppers.

Meanwhile, you’ll cook spaghetti in a pot of heavily salted, boiling water. Once the noodles are al dente, you can transfer them to your tomato sauce using tongs, ladling in some of that pasta water to make a thick, glossy sauce. Twirl up the spaghetti onto a plate and top it off with some fresh parsley. Boom — it doesn’t get much simpler than that.

Credit: Sara Tane

My Honest Review of the Snappy Harlot Pasta

I might not have any Italian ancestors, but if I did I think they’d be really proud of me for this pasta. It was so good and so mind-blowingly simple. Not only did it make the entire kitchen smell like a dream, but the sauce also was an effortless balance of acidity, saltiness, and brininess. The Pasta Queen notes that this sauce is referred to as puttanesca in Italy. I used to work at an upscale pizzeria when I was in college, and we had a Puttanesca pie on the menu. This was the first time I really understood the beauty of capers, olives, and anchovies all together. I also developed an unhealthy obsession with Calabrian chili oil at this job, but we can discuss that another time.

Our chef used to (jokingly … I think) tell us that he wouldn’t allow a customer to order the Puttanesca pie without anchovies. Sounds harsh, but like my chef I do feel strongly that these little tinned fish fillets round out the flavors of the dish. If you’re hesitant to cook with anchovies, I can assure you that the final dish did not have a fishy flavor — instead, it boasted a subtle umami flavor that’s way more interesting than any red sauce you might buy in a jar.

Something I admire about The Pasta Queen is that her recipes really lean into simplicity (have you tried her Assassin Spaghetti yet? You should). It’s easy for me to get a little carried away when I’m cooking, and frankly, sometimes I just want to add all the ingredients and do the absolute most. Recipes like these are a good reminder that it’s important to edit your ingredient list, and a simple method is oftentimes much tastier than one that’s complex. Could you shower this in Parmesan? Sure, but I honestly wasn’t missing it at all.

Credit: Sara Tane

2 Tips for Making the Snappy Harlot Pasta

  1. Taste it before seasoning it. Because of all the salty, briny ingredients, I didn’t need to add any salt to my sauce, although I did add a pinch of flaky salt to the plated dish. Always taste your food before you give it a big pinch of salt. In this case, I didn’t think it needed it. Of course, your pasta water should be salty like the sea, as always.
  2. Always cook your garlic over medium to low heat. Sometimes I feel like a broken record saying this, but there is no greater heartbreak than burning garlic and having to start a dish over. Play it safe and keep your skillet over medium heat for garlic that’s delightfully softened and fragrant.

Have you tried the “Snappy Harlot” pasta recipe? Let us know in the comments!