Serves a Crowd

Pasta Puttanesca

February 19, 2014
7 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This is one of the first recipes my stepfather ever made for the family and one of the first recipes I ever taught myself to make. It's quick and spicy and holds up well to variations. —Snafu06

Test Kitchen Notes

Between the anchovies, capers, and two kinds of olives, this pasta packs a punch -- it's salty, bright, and balanced in a way that reminds us of summer. Crushed red pepper adds a spot-on hit of heat. The sauce works great with canned tomatoes, making for a winter- and pantry-friendly dish that's a welcome change to winter's heavier, cozier dishes; come summer, though, fresh tomatoes will really shine here. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Salt
  • 1 pound dried pasta (fusilli or spaghetti work well)
  • 2 28-ounce cans Italian plum tomatoes, San Marzano if you can find them
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 8 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (makes it pretty hot, adjust to suit your own tastes)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup black olives, pitted, sliced into thirds
  • 1/4 cup pimento-stuffed green olives, sliced into thirds
  • 1/4 cup nonpareil capers, drained
  • 1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped, divided
  • Pepper to taste
  1. Start salted water boiling for the pasta. You're going to cook the pasta according to package instructions while you make the sauce, but stop and drain 1 to 2 minutes short of the directed cooking time.
  2. Drain and quarter the tomatoes, squeezing out as much liquid as possible without destroying the tomatoes themselves (they'll break down in the sauce).
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until shimmering.
  4. Add the anchovy fillets to the skillet. Stir and break them up until they completely dissolve.
  5. Add the crushed red pepper and let it cook for a few seconds, just to let it blossom.
  6. Add the garlic and continue to stir.
  7. When the garlic begins to brown just a little, add the tomatoes and simmer until they start to break down and thicken into a sauce (10 to 15 minutes).
  8. Add oregano, olives, capers, and half the parsley. Simmer for about ten minutes more until it reaches a sauce like consistency. Taste for seasoning.
  9. Take the drained pasta and add it to a large skillet over medium heat. Pour in a small amount of the pasta sauce and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente. Alternatively, you could use tomato juice from the canned tomatoes in this step. Either way, don't skip it, it really adds to the flavor.
  10. Remove from heat, combine with remaining sauce, sprinkle with the rest of the parsley and serve immediately.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • V.
  • walkie74
  • Valentina Solfrini
    Valentina Solfrini
  • yjZuk

8 Reviews

V. March 23, 2017
A favorite. I plan on making it again soon (and it will be the 4th or 5th time I have).
Heidi October 19, 2015
This is perfect. I have been looking for a pasta puttanesca recipe since we visited Rome and had it for lunch one day. This recipe brought me back to a crisp December afternoon where I first had this dish! And I can use the left over strained tomato to make couscous risotto with tomato, mozzarella and oregano!
Snafu06 October 19, 2015
That's great, I'm glad you liked it.
majel November 19, 2014
Added a tablespoon of Harissa paste--- added a nice kick :)
Snafu06 November 19, 2014
That's a great idea, I'll have to try it the next time I make this.
walkie74 March 30, 2014
So good I had it twice! It definitely tastes better with the San Marzano tomatoes, and I think I need to watch the salt...but it was delicious!
Valentina S. March 26, 2014
What I love about this recipe is how international it is. It's one of those things that works all around the world. Little trivia: This roughly translates as 'Slut's pasta' in Italian!
yjZuk March 15, 2014
Cool recipe, lots of ingredients that pack tones of flavor and Umami. Beautiful presentation!!