Pasta alla Puttanesca

You can find plenty of recipes for puttanesca sauce both online and in print, and there’s a very good reason it’s become so popular. Pasta Puttanesca is a quick, easy, inexpensive dish that, thanks to its rich flavors makes a truly satisfying, Italian-style dinner. Pair it with a salad, some garlic bread and a glass of Chianti and you simply can’t go wrong.

Pasta alla Puttanesca

Pasta alla Puttanesca

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This pungently flavored pasta sauce is made with tomatoes, black olives, capers and anchovies. Serve it with any cut of pasta you choose, add a salad and you have a satisfying, quick and economical dinner.


  • 12 ounces spaghetti, or your favorite cut of pasta
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2- ounce tin of flat anchovies, lightly rinsed (see recipe notes)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups 26 to 28 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons capers, drained
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped


  • Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.
  • Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until soft and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Stir in the anchovies and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the anchovies “melt” and the mixture is well blended.
  • Stir in the white wine, then add the tomatoes, oregano and crushed red pepper. Bring to a slow simmer, then stir in the Kalamata olives and capers.
  • Continue cooking, stirring frequently, for 8 to 10 minutes, then season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for an additional 10 minutes. Taste again and adjust the seasoning as needed.
  • While the sauce finishes, cook and drain the pasta according to package directions.
  • To serve, plate individual portions of pasta and top with sauce.

Tips for Making This Recipe

Occasionally anchovies can be excessively salty, and giving them a quick rinse helps get that under control. Transfer them to a small dish, cover with cold water and give them a quick stir. Drain thoroughly and proceed with your recipe, but be cautious when using additional salt in your dish.
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