All who love a good, robust bowl of pasta probably have at least one recipe for this very aromatic sauce—so this may just be a reminder that it might be time to make it again.  Ready in less than an hour, with cooking aromas that can waft into the next county, this is definitely not your Mama’s spaghetti sauce.  Its origins shrouded in fact and fiction, it could have been just a long-ago Neapolitan’s pantry dinner—or it could indeed have been the tempting whiffs of spicy sauce that lured customers to the “ladies of the night”, hence the name.  About the only mistake to be made here would be one of “not enough”—with most of the ingredients, more is definitely more.  This basic recipe is designed to be customized to taste—but make sure to add “enough”.


  • 1-28 oz can crushed tomatoes (no substitutions)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-2 oz can anchovy fillets in olive oil
  • black brined olives—roughly chopped
  • rinsed capers
  • red pepper flakes
  • basil, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Cook chopped onions in olive oil until almost translucent.  Add anchovies (yes, the whole can!) and cook until anchovies have started to melt into onions.  Add garlic, capers, red pepper flakes, basil, salt and pepper and cook another minute.  Add canned tomatoes, heat to simmer—then lower heat, cover and cook about 30 min, stirring occasionally. Serve with spaghetti—meatballs optional.


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