The Assassin’s Spaghetti

The Pasta Queen cookbook and spaghetti on a plate
Credit: The Pasta Queen by Nadia Caterina Munno

Taken from the new book The Pasta Queen by Nadia Caterina Munno, this pan-fried spicy spaghetti his a long history, and a delicious heat…

Preparation and cooking time: 30min
Serves: 4

Nadia Caterina Munno said: “This is a very famous dish from Puglia, and the recipe is based on an almost true story. Legend has it that a drunk cook at a restaurant in Bari was distracted by a beautiful woman passing by and put uncooked spaghetti directly into his cast-iron pan of simmering tomato sauce that he had overloaded with too much garlic and chillies. Once the spaghetti absorbed the sauce, it began to burn on the bottom of the pan, alerting the cook with its spicy and smoky aromas. He tried to save the dish from disaster by making a tomato paste broth and slowly adding it to the pan, risottata-style, inventing something totally unique. The pasta became one with the chillies and the tomatoes, and it was so beautifully flawed and perfect that he decided to serve it to a guest who, upon eating it, was so overwhelmed by the spice he shouted, ‘What are you trying to do – kill me?!’ Thus, the Assassin’s Spaghetti was born. Serve this to spice up your life.”

  1. In a medium pot, bring 1.4 litres water to a rolling boil over high heat. Stir in the tomato paste until it dissolves to create a tomato broth. If necessary, season it with salt until it tastes like a seasoned soup and keep the tomato broth warm over a very low heat.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large deep sauté pan, sizzle the garlic and chilli flakes in the olive oil over low heat. Add the tomatoes and a heavy pinch of salt. Increase the heat to medium high and  add the uncooked spaghetti. Ladle in the tomato broth to keep the spaghetti just barely submerged, adding more as needed. Let the pasta cook until it sticks to the bottom of the pan and starts to burn slightly. Toss briefly and add a splash (60ml) tomato broth to the pasta. Cook until al dente, allowing the pasta to completely absorb the liquid. Add 60ml tomato broth at a time as needed to finish cooking the pasta.
  3. Serve garnished with fresh chillies.

Recipe taken from The Pasta Queen by Nadia Caterina Munno. HarperCollins, HB, £22.

The Pasta Queen book