Spaghetti Squash Puttanesca

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Enchanting puttanesca sauce is incredibly easy to make. It originated on the Italian Amalfi coast. Puttanesca is derived from a deviation of puttana, a vulgar word for whore. The literal translation is “as a prostitute would prepare spaghetti”. This is probably due to the spicy nature of adding hot red pepper flakes to the sauce. None the less, this zesty sauce can be prepared from most items stored dry in the pantry. This sauce adorns the somewhat neutral flavor of spaghetti squash perfectly.


To make it healthier and plant-based use spaghetti squash in place of pasta. Omit the anchovies and it becomes vegan, although anchovies are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and give a truly Italian zing to the sauce. For those who swear that they do not like anchovies be assured that they charmingly melt and mingle into the sauce do not resemble anchovy fillets on top of pizza in any way. Grated or flaked Parmigiano Reggiano cheese can be sprinkled on top to add to the umami-rich flavors derived from the tomatoes. It is best made with Certified San Marzano canned tomatoes grown in the nearby Mount Vesuvius region of Italy. Certified because there are many imitation San Marzano canned tomatoes on the market. Trader Joe’s carries the certified brand that comes in a BPA free can lining. If you use a different brand of canned tomatoes be sure that it comes in tomato puree rather than juices for a thicker sauce. Whether you prefer vegan or vegetarian you must try this wonderful dish!

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4 servings


2 ½ to 3-pound spaghetti squash

½ teaspoon or more sea salt

1 (28 ounce) can Certified San Marzano peeled tomatoes

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

½ cup pitted Kalamata olives

1 tablespoon anchovy fillets, rinsed, patted dry, chopped (optional)

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon fresh basil, sliced into thin ribbons


1.     Preheat the oven to 375⁰F.

2.     Cut the top off the spaghetti squash. Cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard the seeds. Place cut-side down on a Silpat mat or parchment paper. Bake for forty-five minutes or until tender. Turn off the oven. Rake the squash with a fork into separate spaghetti strands. Season with sea salt. Keep warm in the oven.

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3.     While baking the squash begin the sauce. Crush the tomatoes with hands and reserve.

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4.     Heat a large sautoir (straight-sided sauté pan with a long handle). Add the olive oil. When it shimmers add the garlic. Sizzle for about thirty seconds. Add the tomatoes, olives, anchovies, capers, red pepper flakes and oregano. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for fifteen minutes or until thickened which can be determined by dragging a spatula through the sauce to see if it separates.

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5.     Toss the spaghetti squash strands with the sauce. Top with the fresh basil and serve hot.

Linda HierholzerENTRÉES