Spaghetti Squash alla Puttanesca

One of the good things about the time when your fridge and pantry are stocked so low that you shouldn’t put off going to the grocery store much longer is the fact that it can inspire a little trial and error kitchen creativity. Such was the case in my house around lunchtime yesterday. I had a spaghetti squash and really wanted to make the best of it. I threw it in my Breville oven to roast (well, I first washed it and poked some holes through it with a knife) and figured I’d come up with something to serve it with.

I scanned the fridge, counter, and pantry and ended up with a can of artichoke hearts, a little tomato, some onion, garlic, capers, a little parmesan cheese, and parsley from my little plant. Though I didn’t have green olives or anchoives, I figured, why not create a puttanesca style sauce?


The translation of spaghetti alla puttanesca is quite interesting. Basically, it means “spaghetti the way a whore would make it” or “whore’s style pasta”. The exact reason why is up for debate. As puttanesca is a very easy and quick sauce to make, some say the prostitutes would just throw the ingredients together between sessions. Others suggest the pungent and tangy ingredients used, like anchovies and capers, are reminiscent of a whore. Rumor also has it that the powerful and tempting aroma exuded from a pot of simmering puttanesca would lure customers into the brothels. Well, whatever the reason, it’s a delicious dish of Southern Italian cuisine typically inclusive of tomatoes, olive oil, capers, olives, and garlic.

The Cost

About $6 for 2 people. Sadly, I lost some of my receipts after the recent move and don’t have exact calculations.

What You Need

  • 1 Spaghetti Squash
  • 1 Small Onion, diced
  • 1-2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 2-3 Tomatoes (plum tomatoes are great), diced
  • 2 tablespoons or so of Capers
  • Small Splash of Lemon, white wine, or rice wine vinegar
  • 1 can of Artichoke hearts (or use olives). quartered
  • Anchovies (optional)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Parsley, chopped
  • Parmesan cheese

For the Squash

Baking spaghetti squash is super easy.

  • Preheat oven anywhere from 375-425 degrees.
  • First, wash the outside of the squash and remove any labels on it.
  • Either keep whole and poke holes around the squash with a pairing knife and roast as is or
  • Cut the squash in half, scoop out seeds/pulp, and put facedown on a baking sheet.
  • Roast for about an hour, more if using a particularly large squash.
  • Let cool enough so you can handle it and scoop out the “spaghetti” like flesh into a bowl.


For the Puttanesca

  • In a large skillet or medium sized saucepan, heat a glug of olive oil over medium-high heat.
  • Throw in onions and garlic and sauté until soft.
  • Add tomatoes and bring to a nice simmer over medium to medium-low heat.
  • Mix in artichoke hearts and capers.
  • Splash in a bit of lemon, vinegar, or white wine and reduce further.
  • Add some salt and pepper and continue to cook, stirring regularly. Feel free to toss in some chili flakes.
  • Remove from heat and stir in a little chopped parsley.
  • Spoon over roasted squash and sprinkle a little parmesan cheese on top if you please.

With a dish so loosely put together as this one, trust your culinary instincts. Add more or less of certain ingredients based upon your taste, judgement, and intuition.


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