Calabrian chilis—plus some simple pantry staples—really makes this 20-minute dinner recipe 🔥 .

Karla Walsh
June 23, 2021
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A fork with spaghetti on it on a designed background of calabrian chilis
Credit: Getty Images / John Lund / John Cartwright

ICYMI, The Pasta Queen is practically TikTok royalty these days.

Born in Rome, Italy, and currently living and cooking in the U.S., "The Pasta Queen" Nadia Caterina Munno has taken to social media to share some of her family's favorite classic Italian recipes. And one of the most recent caught our eye not only for its speed—start to finish, the entire entree takes just 20 minutes!—but also for its entirely-pantry staple ingredient list, including one fiery option we now want to add to all of our Mediterranean dinners.

"My favorite recipe of all time is what I call the 'Snappy Harlot,'" she says, introducing her rendition of pasta Puttanesca.

To make the 20-minute meal that has racked up more than 1.3 million views since she shared it on TikTok on June 11, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil to the bottom of a large skillet over medium heat. In that oil, sauté a few cloves of minced garlic, a handful of black olives and a tablespoon or so of capers.

Then toss in a couple anchovy filets. (Psst...Even if you're not a fan of anchovies on their own, you'll likely love the complexity they add here. They melt right into the sauce and lend a lovely salty and umami boost, although if you're eating a plant-based diet, you can trade in a splash of soy sauce or more capers.)

Pour in a can of crushed tomatoes "which will come alive" in that flavor base, according to Munno. Then add a teaspoon or so, to taste, of the secret ingredient: Calabrian chilis (buy it: $11.49 for 10 ounces, Amazon).

"Calabrian chili peppers make it spicy and seductive, just like you are," Munno says. 🤣

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The Pasta Queen is in good company with her adoration of Calabrian chilis. Megan O. Steintrager, EatingWell's senior digital food editor first learned about jarred Calabrian chiles years ago from none other than Italian chef/cookbook author/TV host Giada de Laurentiis.

"I've kept a jar in my fridge at all times since then. I use a spoonful of the chiles to amp up all kinds of pasta sauces, including puttanesca and arrabiata—the chiles are particularly good in tomato-based sauces with lots of veggies," Steintrager says. "I especially like using them if I am starting with a jar of sauce rather than making my sauce from scratch. It's a great shortcut to tons of flavor!" (Discover a few more ways to use this spicy pantry staple in our guide to 2020 summer food trends.)

As the sauce simmers together, cook spaghetti in a pot of salted, boiling water. Once the pasta is al dente, use tongs to transfer it to the skillet of sauce, and ladle in a bit of that pasta cooking water until the sauce appears glossy, thick and your desired consistency.

Garnish with parsley "and we find ourselves with something just gorgeous," The Pasta Queen concludes as she uses tongs to create a lovely twirled portion to add to a plate.

Offering a lovely and light balance of salt (capers, olives, anchovies), fat (olive oil), acid (tomatoes) and heat (chilis!), Munno's recipe checks all the flavor boxes—and in no time flat. Now, more than ever, we totally get that 👑 moniker!

Looking for a full step-by-step how-to for puttanesca? Our Bucatini alla Puttanesca is almost identical to Munno's Spicy Harlot Pasta, and our Quick Shrimp Puttanesca can be on your table in just 15 minutes.