Penne alla Puttanesca

So, continuing with my history of pasta sauces, today we stop at Puttanesca. This is another one of those sauces that has multiple definitions.

So picture this, you just finished your shift at work. You are walking home from the factory, but you smell a strong aroma wafting from the side street. Intrigued, you walk down the alley and being naturally attracted to anchovies, capers and olives you continue down the alley. What do you encounter? Ladies of the night, cooking big vats of pasta sauce solely for the purpose to lure you into their grasps.

Well, that’s the most popular version of Puttanesca. Supposedly It was made by prostituties (yes it’s mis-spelled purposely) who could not run to the market to buy fresh ingredients and only had access to pantry ingredients.

Shifting to more of a feel good story. The wives of Italian men used to make this cheap sauce. Then would proceed to throw it on the ladies of the night as they walk past their windows. Undoubtedly ruining their fine silk outfits and causing them to smell like anchovies.

So, we will do the same thing we do to start every recipe:


Medium dice 1/2 red onion, chop a handful of parsley, mince and remove the pits of 15 Gaeta olives. Rinse off 2 tablespoons of salt packed capers, open a small can of anchovies and mince them. Also, thinly slice 3 cloves of garlic.

Throw everything into a saute pan with olive oil and saute until the onions are translucent and the anchovies have begun to dissolve.

Next add 3 cups of tomato puree, (I used Pomi brand strained tomatoes) and chop up another handful of parsley and throw it in. Also, were going to check our seasonings and add freshly cracked black pepper and kosher salt.

I cooked it a little further than this, because I added more tomato than I should have. I don’t have any photos to prove this, you’re just gonna have to trust me.

Once you have your sauce to your desired thickness. serve with al dente pasta and top with copious amounts of Parmesan cheese.

Some notes:

  • I had trouble finding anchovies that I wanted to cook with, not sure what’s going on with that.
  • There are many ways capers are packed, I used salt packed capers. In my opinion they are the best, because they are not sitting in liquid.
  • I’m going to be honest with you, I dislike this sauce. I tried to like it, but me and fish do not get along.
  • This is a quick, cheap and easy sauce. If you like anchovies, I suggest you become familiar with this.
  • This recipe was inspired by

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