Loading Video...

Pasta Puttanesca

This sauce is named for ladies of the night. They would place pots of it in their windows to tempt men into the bordellos. I like it because it's spicy, fast and easy (no disrespect to the ladies).
Save Recipe
  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 30 min
  • Prep: 15 min
  • Cook: 15 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
Share This Recipe


2 tablespoons (2 turns around the pan) extra-virgin olive oil

4 to 6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tin flat anchovy fillets, drained

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

20 oil-cured black olives, cracked away from pit and coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons capers

One 32-ounce can chunky style crushed tomatoes

One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained

A few grinds black pepper

1/4 cup (a couple of handfuls) flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 pound spaghetti, cooked to al dente (with a bite)

Crusty bread, for mopping

Grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Romano, for passing, optional

Serving suggestions: Bitter Greens Salad, recipe follows

Bitter Greens Salad:

4 cups (about 2 bundles) arugula leaves, coarsely chopped

1 1/2 cups (about 1 bundle) watercress leaves, coarsely chopped

1 head Radicchio lettuce, coarsely chopped

1 large lemon

Extra-virgin olive oil, to coat, 2 to 3 tablespoons

Coarse salt and black pepper

Oil cured black olives, for garnish, optional


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add oil, garlic, anchovies, and crushed pepper. Saute mixture until anchovies melt into oil and completely dissolve and garlic is tender, about 3 minutes: your kitchen never smelled so good! Add olives, capers, tomatoes, black pepper, and parsley. Bring sauce to a bubble, reduce heat, and simmer 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Toss sauce with cooked pasta. Pass bread and cheese at the table and serve with Bitter Greens Salad.

Bitter Greens Salad:

  1. Combine greens in a salad bowl. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the bowl. Drizzle salad liberally with extra virgin olive oil. Toss salad and season salad with salt and pepper. Arrange salad on plates. Garnish plates with black olives, if using.

Cook’s Note

Get your olives from the bulk bins in the market, rather than buying a jar. The unit price is always much less per pound and you can get just what you need for each recipe.

Creamy Pasta Puttanesca with Bacon and Shrimp
35m Easy 99%
Mixed Vegetable Pasta
Stuart O'Keeffe

Mixed Vegetable Pasta

12m Easy 98%
Penne alla Puttanesca
8m Easy 98%
Gluten-Free Garlic Shrimp Pasta with Spicy Tomato Sauce