pasta puttanesca


Puttanesca, you had me at olives and capers. I can barely pass up a dish with one, so both in one sauce is heaven. Anchovies on the other hand, I can do without. But they make a world’s difference in this sauce, so do yourself a favor and add those salty canned guys to your grocery list. They’re inexpensive and the sauce just won’t taste the same without them. Sold? Sold. Also, apologies for the Jerry Maguire “You had me at hello” parody. A prime example of my poor self control.

My boyfriend and I just so happen to have the same affinity for olives and capers. So naturally I felt the need to have the puttanesca recipe at my fingertips. There are various takes on the sauce and a lot of the taste depends on the types of ingredients you use. Fresh or canned tomatoes? Black or kalamata olives? Broth or no broth? I opted for canned tomatoes, but buying fire roasted was really key for adding a bit more flavor. I love kalamata olives, so there was really no competition there. I used vegetable broth to thin the sauce out and then let it simmer for 30 minutes. The broth of course makes the sauce too thin to serve, which is why you should keep it on the stove to reduce and thicken. Reduce plus thicken equals flavor. Instead of crushed red pepper flakes, I added Italian seasoning. And I may or may not have thrown in some sun dried tomatoes. Couldn’t resist.

Enjoy the recipe and if you can find homemade pasta or if you make your own, more power to you. Buon appetito!

pasta puttanesca
makes 4 servings
useful gadgets: a hefty appetite

for the sauce:
2 tbsp olive oil
6 cloves minced
1 cup onion, chopped
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 2-ounce tin anchovies
¾ cup kalamata olives
4 tbsp capers
⅓ cup sun dried tomatoes
1 32-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth

for the pasta:
16 ounces pappardelle

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the garlic, onion and Italian seasoning. Cook for a couple minutes, stirring to coat the garlic and onions in the Italian seasoning.  Drain the tin of anchovies so there’s no liquid left. I know, they’re not the most appetizing by their salty self. But trust me, these little fish add a huge flavor to the sauce.


Add the entire tin of anchovies to the skillet…whole. There’s no need to do anything to the anchovies, like chop them, because they’ll dissolve in the olive oil. Problem solved. Who really wants to put anchovies on their cutting board anyway? Stir occasionally until the anchovies dissolve, about three minutes.


Add the olives, capers, sun dried tomatoes and the 32 ounce can of fire roasted diced tomatoes. Stir and incorporate them well into the dissolved anchovy mixture.


Bring the sauce to a boil and pour in the vegetable or chicken broth. Simmer for about 30 minutes, letting the sauce reduce so it’s thick and filled with flavor. If you don’t have time to let the sauce reduce for 30 minutes, leave out the broth. While the sauce is reducing, cook the pasta according to the instructions. Pappardelle usually takes about 8-10 minutes. Toss the cooked pasta with the sauce and mangia!


whisk away!

3 thoughts on “pasta puttanesca

  1. Danielle – you are too much. Since I’m half Italian, it has never occurred to me to make any kind of tomato sauce that didn’t include meatballs and sausages. Actually, it has occurred to me but I’ve just never done it. I love everything in the recipe including anchovies – will definitely try this one!

  2. Did you know that puttanesca means “prostitute”? Supposedly, Italian hookers in the old days used to cook up the dish and leave it on their window sills to lure in men. No coincidence that it’s also delish served room temp, or even cold. Lil tidbit, care of my Sicilian mother.

    Also, this is one of my fave dishes!!!

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