Spaghetti With Puttanesca Sauce and…One Hundred and Two Hours

Arabella turned 17 last September and so became eligible to sit for her driver’s licence.  But as she hadn’t completed the 120 hours of driving under supervision, she couldn’t book in for the test.

And six months later she still can’t because we’re only up to 102 hours.  Eighteen hours to go and half of them have to be night hours.

Spaghetti with Puttanesca Sauce

She’s bored with the process and annoyed because all her friends seem to have had no trouble clocking up the required number of hours and are now flinging their newly acquired independence in her face by making it very obvious they have their licence – nothing sinister, she’s just feeling left out.  And so she’s nagging me all the time to take her driving.

I wish I could say I was willing.  But I’m not enjoying this process and neither is Carl.  It’s a great source of marital tension as to whose turn it is to take her driving.  That’s because she cannot take criticism.  She’ll swerve towards a car almost colliding with it and I’ll gently but vocally yell, ‘Too close, move over.’  And she’ll scream back at me, ‘You can’t do that to me mum.  Don’t you know I’m stressed enough as it is?  Can’t you speak to me in a normal voice?’

‘I would Arabella but you’re making it difficult.  Alfie’s in this car too you know and he’s precious cargo.’

‘Well I wish he wasn’t.  I don’t like him being in the car because he’s annoying.’

‘He is not and he’s not doing anything to you.’

‘He’s whistling.’

‘That’s hardly a crime Arabella and you were the most offending whistler of everyone in this family.  You wouldn’t stop not even if we begged.’

‘Well it’s distracting.’

‘Yes, and they’ll be plenty to distract you every time you get behind the wheel so you’d better get used to it.’  And then we continue on in silence with just a little mellow whistling coming from the back seat but then I yell, (forgetting her plea to keep my tone moderated, ‘What are you doing?’

‘What?’ she screams back.

‘Where do you think you’re going?  You should have turned right back there.’

‘You should have told me mum.  How am I supposed to know where I’m going.’

‘We’re going over the harbour bridge.  You follow the signs that say, ‘bridge’.’

‘Dad gives me 300 metres notice before I have to turn and you never give me any warning.  You just sit there screaming at me once I’ve gone past the turn.’

‘You’ve been in Sydney all your life.  You know where we’re going.  You need to concentrate.  Pull over here and we’ll have to turn around.’

‘I can’t do it.  I can’t drive with you in the car.  You get me so stressed.’

‘Arabella, without a licence you have to have me in the car.’

‘Well I’d rather be with dad.  He doesn’t yell at me and he tells me where I’m going.’

‘Well I’d like him to trade places with me too.’

‘I’d just rather drive with dad and not have Alfie either.’

‘Fine.  Wait until your father has time to take you driving and let’s see how long it takes you to complete your log book.’  And we continue on in silence until my next outburst.

Carl and I have come to a decision.  We’re bringing in a third party.  Arabella’s final 18 hours will be supervised by a professional.

A meal that’s soothing for fractured nerves

When you come in from an afternoon of supervising Arabella’s driving, you don’t need to be preparing a challenging meal.  Here is a family meal that can be made quickly, simply and cheaply using just a few ingredients.  It’s called Puttanesca and is made with tomatoes, olives and capers.  Originally it was called ‘Working Girl’s Pasta’ or ‘Whore’s Pasta’ and no one is really sure why.  Traditionally it is served with spaghetti.

Spaghetti with Puttanesca Sauce:

Very calming for Arabella – she likes pasta and vegetarian!

Serves:  4

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  Minimal

  • 2 tbspns olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup pitted and stuffed green olives, sliced
  • 1 cup semi-dried tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 tbspns salted capers, rinsed and drained
  • 800g tinned tomatoes
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 400gm spaghetti
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese to serve

And now we all feel much better!

Heat a medium sized saucepan over medium heat.  Add the olive oil and the garlic, being careful not to let the garlic burn.  When the garlic becomes fragrant add the olives, semi-dried tomatoes and capers.  Stir until fragrant then add the tinned tomatoes.  Simmer for 20 minutes then add the basil and pasley and stir until softened.

Meanwhile, heat a large saucepan of water over high heat.  When boiling add 1 tsp salt and the pasta.  Cook until al dente.

Serve pasta in warmed bowls topped with sauce and finished off with some parmesan cheese.

Want to keep in touch?  Join the fun on the Hotly Spiced Facebook page!






  1. We thankfully came to that decision BEFORE our daughter started lessons 🙂 Here in the ACT we just have a log book that needs to signed off, not an amount of hours. MiddleC is not in a hurry however, so we have resorted to fining her if she DOESN”T book a lesson! There has to be a middle ground between the two extremes of our daughters attitudes 🙂
    I definitely think comfort food like this is in order after dealing with teenagers, yummo!

  2. If I ever have children, I plan to delegate driving lessons to someone else. And preferably never be in the car while they are learning! I remember how stressful it was with my younger siblings (who also couldn’t take criticism!) and have no desire to re-live the experience. I hope for all of your sakes she gets her hours done soon!

    This would be good post-driving food I suspect, or post-anything food. Delicious!

  3. Whore’s Pasta?? I love it. I’m going to have a dinner party and print out the menu. 🙂

    I’ve heard of puttanesca before but never the whore bit. You’re amazing!

    I had no trouble teaching my kids to drive but my stepson was a totally different story. He was a teenage boy who knew everything. Couldn’t understand why he couldn’t lern to drive in the new car. Finally we decided that a professional could do the job with a lot less stress. He got his license and was a happy camper.

    See? there I am typing American again and I know if I open my wallet it definitely says licence. 🙂 forgive me.

  4. I had a professional teach me how to drive….my father took me maybe once or twice. And then never again. 😛

    This pasta sounds like just what you need after a long day of driving!

  5. Hi,
    A very good idea getting in a professional, a lot let stress for everyone I feel. Way back when I was learning to drive, my parents got a professional more or less from word go.

    Oh your pasta dish looks very nice. 😀

  6. I cannot wait to tell my husband we will be having Whore’s Pasta soon. He will be so excited:) Have you tried different types of stuffed olives? Pimento stuffed are not my favorite. Maybe a garlic stuffed? Our Dad taught each of us to drive. My mother refused to be part of it. He took us out to a gravel lot behind the school on the weekends MANY times before he took us on the street. I spun a lot of gravel.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Hi Rachel, I use green olives stuffed with pimentos but you can use green olives that are pitted but not stuffed or you could use pitted kalamattas. It doesn’t really matter what olives you use, but don’t add salt to the sauce because the olives and capers will add that for you. Enjoy your ‘whore’s pasta’! xx

  7. Thank goodness for professional driving instructors – saves many relationships from going to the dogs – I was glad of one when my partner was learning to drive!

    Love the sound of your puttanesca – am feeling in the mood for pasta lately so this is going on the to do list

  8. Hehe I just went through all of that and then I was told that people over 25 don’t need to do 120 hours! They could have told me that before I spent so long 😛

  9. I think most mothers feel the same as you about driving lessons. I found, too, when our son was first learning to drive that he needed to be told, turn left here, right here. Like, don’t you watch landmarks and signs, etc.., so you can navigate your way?

  10. We love made-at-home spaghetti sauces …thus have printed and will use. Many thanks!

  11. Capers and olives – yum!

    Gosh, that story brings back memories of when my mom was teaching me how to drive. We lived in a rural area though and I was mainly driving on back roads in the country. Much less stressful than learning to drive in an urban city I’m sure! I’ve been driving for years and years and I STILL dislike driving in cities!

  12. My Dad taught me to drive and I had to take a driving course so that our insurance wouldn’t be as high. In those days, you turned 16, take a written drivers test and then a practical test and you pass. You just got your license. Now it’s graduated…similar to your process. It’s probably a good idea to hire someone to drive with Arabela, I’m sure that there is enough tension if she is a normal teenaged girl — I know there was with me 😉
    The pasta sound delightful, I am intrigued by the alternative name, though.

  13. so delicious… and I love your food photographs too. Thank you, with my love, nia

  14. I love the name Arabella.

  15. HAHAHA I swear I had the same conversations with my mother when I was trying to get my driving hours hahaha it was horrible driving with my mother! I don’t know if it was because I really was a bad driver or if we were just at each others neck all the time 🙁 Either way it wasn’t very nice sigh… but I think getting a 3rd party to come in is a good idea! I was very lucky and had a friends partner who was a few years older than me and could take me driving 😀 I was so much more relaxed ~ YAY!

    Hope it goes well with Arabella 🙂 I’ve heard about this pasta before and the name still cracks me up hehe ~

  16. This post brings memories from my son’s driving period 😉
    The pasta looks really flavorful, love the olives in this sauce.
    Good luck with your daughter and hope you have a less nerve issues 🙂

  17. Love that the countdown is done in hours!

  18. Haha! I remember my mother’s nervous face when she was teaching me how to drive!
    Happy to see that you guys are religiously following the hours 🙂

  19. I think a professional is a good idea, Charlie. I left almost all the behind the wheel training to my husband. I was too jumpy! Of course, the laws have changed a lot since then and now the requirements are more stringent! I’m all for comfort food when stress is higher than normal, and to me, this recipe is just that. It sounds wonderful! Debra

  20. See? We don’t have that problem in Spain, we have to drive with a professional, it’s ilegal to go with your parents which makes everything more expensive but less stressing for all!!!

  21. I’m so glad my days of teaching kids to drive are over. I’ve finally gotten where I can ride with both my kids and not grip the armrest. (Well, most of the time.)

    The pasta looks simple and perfect — my kinda dish!

  22. I had a professional teach my daughter to drive from the beginning. Don’t think I could handle the stress.
    Would be interest to find out how the name “Whore’s Pasta” came about.

  23. I paid to learn how to drive at a professional agency (Canadian Automobile Agency) because the only driver in our house was my dad and if I had to drive with him in the car I would have been so stressed I would have probably driven into a wall to shut him up. 🙁 He was THAT judgmental. Sometimes you have to let the professionals do this stuff. Luckily in Canada, we didn’t have to do 120 hrs of logged time, only 10 hrs in-car with a trainer and the classroom lessons to get a break on the insurance.

  24. We are teaching our third child to drive now, she will be eligible for a license in June after 50 driving hours and 1 year with a permit. She does pretty well, but it is still stressful. We have 8 hours to go for her log, then we will have her drive with an instructor for 2-3 hours just before she tests. Driving with a professional helps them gain confidence. Hang in there, it’s not any less stressful once they get their license–that’s when we are at home wondering how they are doing.

  25. You’ve reminded me that I’m quite glad all 3 of mine have their licenses…but I’m still scared to death driving with my daughter!!! Great sounding pasta…simple is perfect for those stressful days 🙂

  26. So many funny stories spring to mind! When I was learning mum used to hold on to the handle above the window. I used to get so angry cause it was like she was holding on for dear life. She claimed it was cause her neck hurt.

    My sister was rather scary learning and dad took her out most of the time. We didn’t have to clock up the hours when we were learning but mum and dad made sure we had it well and truly under control before we had our test (well me anyway, my sister still has room for improvement!).

    I read that the name came to be because the ‘ladies’ used to cook it and the aromas wafted into the streets bringing in the men.

  27. LMAO.. I’m laughing so hard because this sounds like me and my mom when I learned to drive. She would just start yelling at me and no one was in the car but me and her lol. I believe she was scared to death for me and would yell. So we hired a third party and everything was fine after that lol. Love this pasta

  28. The professional is a good idea. good luck on her test!
    I love Puttanesca!

  29. I’m sure it is a terrifying experience as a parent for your child to get their license!

  30. HAHA that sounds so familiar! had the exact same issue with my parents who eventually gave in and got me into proper driving lessons. Loved it too because I asked him the stupidest questions and drove around to random places where radio stations gave away free stuff in the arvos

  31. Good things come to those who wait — even newbie drivers. 😉

  32. I initially learnt to drive in a paddock at the age of about ten with a very chilled out dad by my side, but once I was on the roads my mum would stress me out, just by gripping the Jesus bar with her left hand and the side of the seat with her right. Her knuckles would be white. I tried not to take it personally… I’m also not sure that I’ll do any better when my time comes, especially if it’s a teenage girl!

  33. I remember when I was learning to drive how stressful it was to drive with a family member or my boyfriend at the time. It was so easy to take my frustration out on them. Your pasta looks like a great way to take the edge off a stressful day. You deserve a very large drink for your patience!

  34. Yes unfortunately I have no sense of direction but at least my driving skills are improving 🙂
    The pasta looks amazing. I’m craving Hotly Spiced food here at study camp and can’t wait to come home xx

  35. I don’t know how parents can teach their kids how to drive. Under the best of circumstances, learning to drive is a stressful situation. I think “going professional” is a wise move. As for the origins of pasta puttanesca — a pasta dish that I absolutely love! — one tale involve the ladies of the evening of Naples, where this dish originated. It’s said that these women often “worked” above street level. They’d start a pot of puttanesca on the stove and sit in a window overlooking the street, letting the aroma of the pasta lure their gentlemen callers. Now they probably just text ’em.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      John, you are right, it is so stressful. So stressful in fact that if you were here I’d be saying, ‘Ah John, Arabella would like to show you some of Sydney’s most scenic sites, just step this way’. xx

  36. good luck in driving 🙂 2 years of probation will pass fast

    Latest: The Healthy Bar

  37. Hahaha.. been there, done that!! It’s just the best of times and the worst of times, isn’t it? Well.. I’m also going with the whore pasta, I think that would get my kids to the table a lot faster:)

  38. With only 18 hours to go, you are so close! I’m glad you managed to find a solution that suits all of you.

  39. I still remember how much I hated learning to drive and that was 18 years ago!
    Some of your conversation with Arabella in regards to directions and distractions remind me of conversations I have with J when he is driving! LOL.
    I am with the others, if I ever have a child, he or she will learn to drive with a preofessional.

  40. Huh, is that obligatory, the “supervised hours”… sounds like a huge amount too – 120 hours! 😮

    When I learned to drive I just had my lessons – from a driving school… I think I paid for ~20 x 1 hour lessons up-front and that also included admin costs for the exams and I took those, then the exams and that was it – all done and license given.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Yes, it’s compulsory. It used to be 50 hours but they increased it to 120 hours. It’s very punishing on parents, especially if you have twins! xx

  41. This is my sister’s favorite!

  42. Good decision about the driving – it needs to be someone neutral. And great food to compensate for the stress.

  43. Sorry, I really don’t mean to laugh as I am sure I would be yelling worse than you! Best decision getting in a pro!
    🙂 Mandy

  44. I’m so embarrassed to admit that I still don’t have a driver’s licence yet! lol. Anyway, the spaghetti looks really fresh and great! 🙂

  45. I love sauce alla puttanesca! A very appetising photo!

  46. I hope it’s okay to laugh….no hard feeling…it’s just funny to read all the conversations between you two…..
    The pasta looks delish with Puttanesca sauce.

  47. lol, im sure getting in a proffesional was a great idea 🙂 love thhat sauce the pasta looks lovely

  48. What a great & tasty pasta meal! My father teached me to drive. It wasn’t always easy for him! hahahahha:)

  49. I love this pasta dish – and the names for it! LOL. This driving experience totally gave me flashbacks to driving with my parents. Interesting to see it from their point of view. Mine was the opposite though – I wanted to drive with mom, not dad. Seriously though this sounds exactly like how our drives would go. 🙂

  50. While I think it’s a great idea that Arabella, or any other 16 year old, should have 120 hours under their belt before getting a license, I can appreciate how frayed nerves must be about now. Love your puttanesca…great for any time and it reminds me how much I love green olives in pasta sauce. Good luck with those last few hours!

  51. ah but I can understand your daughter, I wouldnt enjoy whistling and screaming when I am trying to focus. sorry Charlie today I am supporting your daughters point of view.

    I want to confess something, I have never made my lisence… I spend the money to fly to india. lol

    Putanesca is always a life saver in busy times! plus it tastes yumm.

  52. I am looking down the barrel of this gun: my Firstborn is counting the days until she can get her learner’s permit. We have been practicing on our driveway. Thank goodness it is so long; I just get out of the van and watch her go. Her Dad is going to go out on the main road with her. Good luck!

  53. We have almost twin learners mine turned 17 in Sept and has only completed about 60 hours with only me to scream at him….. help

  54. Great idea on bringing in the 3rd party I think! I didn’t mind the process of learning to drive at first, and in fact found it quite easy, until Dad had me doing reverse parks in our first lesson, 4 hours in! For some reason he just thought I could simply get in and drive and one lesson would be enough.

    Best wishes for Arabella’s final 18 hours of driving.

  55. I’m sooo delegating this one to Mr Chocolate. I will teach them how to make bread instead.

  56. That spaghetti looks wonderful! I’m loving the script of your conversation with your daughter… that’s much how it went with me and my mum when I was learning to drive! Good call on bringing in a pro!

  57. haha my father and I used to have the same problems when I was learning how to drive. he gave up on me after his first ‘lesson’ with me and sent me to the ‘professional’.

    btw i’ve always wondered why puttanesca sounded a little dirty, and now I know why.

  58. I feel like I saw myself from this post… It’ll be a big fight between me and my daughter, but now I know I need a third party. It’s a great idea. When I came to the US, I didn’t know how to drive and I had to hire a professional for teaching me to drive. I failed the driving test once (was nervous and drove on a wrong side of road as it’s opposite in Japan) but now I’m a happy driver. Good luck to Arabella! Hmmm these pasta sauce sounds wonderful – I love capers but never put in the pasta. I’ll try this for one of our lunches soon!

  59. Oh, this so gave me flashbacks, Charlie! For what it’s worth, Big Boy is now a fabulous driver, but it took all of the 120 hours of practice to get it right. I think the professional instructor is a good idea – especially since one hour with a professional counts as three in the log book. Sadly you can only claim one of those three as a night hour though, if the lesson is at night. The night hours are the killer, and brutal to clock up during daylight savings time. For what it’s worth, I know someone with twins, so they have to spend 240 hours in the car before their kids can get their licences!!! 🙂

  60. Reminded me of driving lessons with my mum, too! Funny now, but not so funny back then…I think her knuckles were white at the end of each drive from holding onto the door so tightly!

  61. Your post probably reminds all of us moms about our own experiences with our children. My son learned to drive in Mexico, which had its own challenges. Now he is in Los Angeles, CA, and I can’t even THINK aout that! Horrors! The freeways…gasp.

    Nice puttanesca recipe.

  62. I feel like I didn’t have to go through 120 hours when I was learning? But maybe because I did the Log Book system, it was incorporated into that. Hmm. My parents were great at forcing my to drive and practice, I would’ve taken years to do it if they hadn’t made me 😛 Then again, you simply have to drive in Canberra if you want to do anything really!

  63. I am NOT looking forward to supervising driving time (and in the States it’s age 16 when they can drive – that much sooner!). I will be a wreck!!!!

  64. Haha I remember my first few lessons with my dad. He considers himself a patient person but even he was screaming and yelling during lessons and it got to the point where I decided that I wasn’t going to take any more lessons with him. Almost 10 years later (!!), I’ve realised that my Ls are about to expire and that I should really book in a few lessons with an instructor so I can get my test done before my Ls expire. The good thing about being over 25 is that at least I don’t have to clock up 120 hours though given my lack of driving skills, racking up 120 hours is probably in my (and other motorists’) best interests!!


  1. […] One Hundred and Two Hours – The drama of Arabella learning to drive. […]

Speak Your Mind