Please don’t take the name of this recipe as a personal insult! It really is one of my easy-to-make favourites. It has a strong, fiery flavour, especially when accompanied by a glass of robust red wine.

Its attraction for me is that you can make it quickly from tins and jars in your store cupboard, or you can be virtuous and use fresh ingredients – however the mood takes you. And I promise it won’t turn you into a Simpering Nigella!



  1. Put water for pasta on to boil, though you don’t need to get started on the sauce until it is pretty well boiling.
  2. Pour the oil into a wide, shallowish frying pan, casserole or wok, and put on a medium heat.
  3. Add the finely chopped anchovies and cook for about 3 minutes, pressing and pushing with a wooden spoon, until the anchovies have almost “melted”, then add the garlic and chilli flakes (or sliced then diced jalapeños) and cook, stirring for another minute.
  4. This is probably the stage at which you will want to be salting the boiling pasta water and adding the spaghetti to cook according to packet instructions.
  5. Going back to the sauce, add the tomatoes, olives and capers and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring every now and again, by which time it will have thicken slightly. Taste for seasoning.
  6. Just before the pasta is ready, remove about an espresso cupful of cooking water, and reserve it. When the pasta is cooked as desired, drain and add the spaghetti to the sauce in your wok or pan, adding a little reserved pasta water, if needed, to help amalgamate the sauce. Scatter with chopped parsley, if there’s some to hand, and serve in slatternly style, preferably with an untipped cigarette clamped between crimson-painted lips.