Pasta Puttanesca

Pasta Puttanesca

Pasta Puttanesca is a great fall/winter weather meal. It is comfort food.

Pasta Puttanesca
Pasta Alla Puttanesca

What does Pasta Puttanesca mean?

There are almost as many explanations for the origins of pasta puttanesca as there are ways to make it. “Puttanesca” literally translates to “in the style of prostitutes.” It is supposedly because of the pungent aromas of garlic, anchovies, capers, and olives tossed with pasta.  This is how Italian prostitutes in Naples would lead customers to their doors. I like to make this dish in the fall and winter. 

You can make Pasta Puttanesca with ingredients found in most pantries. In fact, it can be made entirely without ingredients that require refrigeration. Using some fresh herbs at the end is good. The basis is a garlicky tomato sauce. It is a high level of flavor by the addition of anchovies, capers, and olives. Red pepper flakes give a little kick. Puttanesca sauce is very briny. If you’re a fan of pickles, capers, and other vinegar-type ingredients, you’ll love Pasta Puttanesca. 

The whole cooking process is very easy. (Hence – Cooking Secrets for Men!) This Italian Pasta Puttanesca recipe is vegetarian. You can make it gluten-free if you use gluten-free pasta. 

Pasta Puttanesca

Pasta Puttanesca

Puttanesca can be made completely with ingredients found in most pantries. In fact, it can be made entirely without ingredients that require refrigeration. (although some fresh herbs at the end is good).
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Course: Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Pasta, Puttanesca
Servings: 4
Calories: 146kcal


  • Pot for boiling water
  • Sauté pan for the sauce


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves peeled and chopped
  • 6 anchovy fillets chopped
  • 1/4 Tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 35 oz. can whole peeled Italian tomatoes with their juices crushed
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped Kalamata olives
  • 1 Tbsp. capers drained
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil for garnish optional


  • In a large saucepan, heat the oil.
    Heat the oil
  • Cook the garlic, anchovies and crushed red pepper over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes.
    Sauté Aromatics
  • Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
    Tomato Paste
  • Stir in the sugar, olives and capers.
  • Add the canned tomatoes with their juices.
    Canned Tomatoes
  • Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
    Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Simmer the sauce over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it thickens and reduces about 30 minutes.
    Simmer Sauce
  • While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta, per directions on the box.
    Pasta Al Dente
  • When pasta is cooked al dente, using a pasta strainer, transfer cooked pasta into the sauce pan and allow it to continue to cook in the sauce, about 1-2 minutes.
    Pasta added to Sauce
  • Season again with salt and pepper and garnish with basil if desired.
    Basil Garnish



Read the beginning of the post for the origins of the name “Puttanesca”


Serving: 6oz | Calories: 146kcal | Carbohydrates: 30.3g | Protein: 7.5g | Fat: 16.2g | Saturated Fat: 2.3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11.4g | Cholesterol: 4.5mg | Sodium: 1051.6mg | Potassium: 454.6mg | Fiber: 5.9g | Sugar: 3.6g | Vitamin A: 39.3IU | Vitamin C: 90.7mg | Calcium: 10.6mg | Iron: 19.9mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Pasta Puttanesca
Pasta Puttanesca

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If you liked this recipe for Pasta Puttanesca, you should try our recipe for Pasta Carbonara, prepared by my son, Luke. Or our recipe for Linguine with Clam Sauce.

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