Spaghetti Puttanesca with Boquerones

For restaurant-quality pasta at home, learning to use pasta cooking liquid to finish the sauce is essential—the dissolved starch in the water thickens the sauce while suspending the fat in a cream emulsion that clings to the noodles. For the best result, we love artisanal pastas like Pastaio Via Corta, Rustichella d'Abruzzo, Martelli, and Seggiano Organic. Each of these companies extrudes their pastas through bronze dies and makes their doughs from 100 percent durum semolina wheat, creating a rougher texture that helps the sauce cling to the noodle. White anchovies add a pop of sweet acid to this tomato-based sauce. Be sure to add them off the heat for the freshest flavor.

Spaghetti Puttanesca with Boquerones
Photo: Victor Protasio
Total Time:
30 mins


  • 2 to 4 chiles de árbol

  • 4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced on a mandoline (2 1/2 tablespoon)

  • 7 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 2 oil-packed anchovy fillets (such as Ortiz), drained and chopped (1 1/2 teaspoon)

  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves

  • 1 2/3 cups hand-crushed San Marzano tomatoes (from 1 [28-ounce] can whole peeled San Marzano plum tomatoes, drained)

  • 3/4 cup Castelvetrano olives (4 ounce), pitted and coarsely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons drained nonpareil capers

  • 12 ounces uncooked bronze-cut spaghetti (such as Barilla Collezione)

  • 12 boquerones fillets (marinated white anchovies)

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil


  1. Heat chiles, garlic, and 6 tablespoons oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is tender and light golden, about 5 minutes. Add anchovies and oregano; cook, breaking up anchovies using the back of a spoon, until garlic is golden and mixture is fragrant, about 1 minute and 30 seconds. Add tomatoes; bring to a simmer over medium. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavors are melded and sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove and discard chiles. Stir in olives and capers.

  2. While sauce simmers, cook pasta in a pot according to master technique (until very al dente, about 3 minutes shorter than package directions call for).

  3. Using tongs, transfer pasta to sauce in skillet, reserving cooking liquid in pot. Increase heat under skillet to high; cook, stirring and shaking skillet constantly, adding 3/4 to 1 cup reserved cooking liquid, 1/4 cup at a time, until pasta is tender and sauce is creamy and coats the pasta, 3 to 4 minutes total. Remove from heat. Add boquerones, basil, and remaining 1 tablespoon oil; toss to coat.

Suggested Pairing

Juicy, low-tannin Italian red

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