This is my friend's, Patricia V. Davis, recipe that is in her book: Harlot's Sauce and that is precisely what Salsa Puttanesca translates to: Harlot's Sauce.
It is a very spicy sauce with a very saucy reputation! Some believe it was called so because it was the traditional sauce of the Neapolitan Harlots as they would prepare this very simple, quick dish after a long day at "clear throat" work, still others believe it was the dish they would use to seduce potential customers into their homes. Those Neapolitan "Hostesses" knew what they were doing, my husband is as thrilled to eat this simple dish (......almost as much as he is hearing me say it.......) as he is a steak dinner and I still have the energy left over to be "hostess" for him!
7 tablespoons good olive oil
1 large onion chopped
4 garlic cloves minced
1 cup water (Or : 1/2 cup pasta water & 1/2 cup white wine)
2 anchovy fillets, mashed with a fork
8 Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced (I have also used canned whole Italian tomatoes)
10 Italian or Greek oil-cured olives, pits removed and sliced (These are hard to find in SC so I used Kalamata olives and I love olives so I doubled this amount!)
fresh chopped oregano and basil (I used dry oregano and fresh parsley since it's winter but I plan on using fresh in the Summer!)
red pepper flakes
salt & pepper
My addition:: a tablespoon capers
Start your pasta water.
Saute the onions, garlic, and anchovies in the oil, not for very long or else the anchovies will have a strong fishy taste.
Add tomatoes and a bit of the pasta water or pasta water & wine and saute again.
When the sauce comes to a boil, add olives and the other ingredients you've chosen.
Reduce the heat, stir occasionally as it cooks, adding more pasta water if it becomes too thick.
Sprinkle with the fresh herbs, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper, to taste.
Serve over spaghetti with some fresh grated cheese if you like.