Pasta alla puttanesca

Another classic pasta recipe that is simple to make and is very tasty. This pasta is typical form south Italy and has kind of a weird name: literary translated it means pasta whore style. There is no consensus on the origin of the name and someone suggests it used to be served in brothels while others suggest it refer to the simple nature of the sauce which consist of ingredients thrown together with no particular care.

Anyway, the secret in this sauce are the anchovies that are melted in the oil and provide a salty and tasty base for the sauce.

Pasta alla puttanesca

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 2 Servings


  • 3-4 oz. pasta per person (spaghetti are the best choice, but this sauce is pretty versatile)
  • 4-5 anchovies
  • 1/2 cup black roasted olives
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 1/2 can tomato sauce
  • 1 clove garlic
  • salt
  • pepper
  • EVOO
  • chili flakes (optional)
  • oregano (optional)
  • parsley (optional)


  1. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the box. While pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce.
  2. In a small pot warm up some oil. When the oil is hot add the anchovies and the crushed garlic clove (do not mine it, just crush it using your knife). If you are sing them you can also add the chili flakes and the oregano. I find the chili flakes take away from the anchovies by covering the anchovies flavor but if you are a fan of spicy go ahead and add your flakes.
  3. Let the anchovies melt down in the oil, this is the key step and what provides the sauce with is typical taste. When the anchovies are all melted, add the olives and the capers (wash the capers if they are preserved in salt) and let them roast for a minute.
  4. Finally add your tomato sauce and season it to taste with salt and pepper. Let the sauce simmer and reduce for as long as you want. 15 minutes or so of simmering is already a fair time 30 minutes will give you a great sauce.
  5. When the pasta is ready drain it and mix it with the sauce. Theoretically at this point you should sprinkle with parsley, but I am really not a fan of parsley so I always leave it out. Serve hot without adding any cheese!

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11 Responses to Pasta alla puttanesca

  1. Pingback: Pasta alle olive | An Italian cooking in the Midwest

  2. ciaochowlinda says:

    A perfect presentation of a classic dish.

  3. Oh that looks so good Pola! I looove that sauce!

  4. Juanita says:

    That's a great looking puttanesca! I love the use of the chilli flakes.

  5. foodie says:

    Looks Yum. All your pasta recipes help. Never made good pasta 🙁

  6. Nuts about food says:

    You may already know from my blog, puttanesca reigns is my family as it is one of my Dad's most famous dishes. Is is however a heavy duty version, nothing as refined as this.

  7. Katherine Martinelli says:

    Such a great dish! I don't use anchovies nearly enough in my cooking but they add such complexity and wonderful flavor to dishes. Even people who claim to hate them will love it (as long as you don't tell them there are anchovies!)

  8. Frank says:

    Love this! Another one of our 'go to'dishes for a quick and tasty meal. Great for weekend dinners when you don't have hours to cook.

  9. Biren @ Roti n Rice says:

    This is one of my favorites as the sauce is so tasty. The anchovies give it so much flavor. I will have to make this soon 🙂

  10. Pola says:

    Just Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  11. My Home Diary in Turkey says:

    Hi Pola.. what is EVOO mentioned in your recipe? thank U ^,^

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