This easy and Authentic Italian Spaghetti alla Puttanesca Recipe takes only 20 minutes to prepare. It is rich in flavor with little effort. Made with a few pantry staples, you can eat like an Italian restaurant at home!
Read What to Serve with Spaghetti to know more about recipes that pair well with spaghetti recipes!
Ingredients for Italian Pasta alla Puttanesca Recipe
- Olive oil
- Garlic cloves
- Red pepper flakes (optional)
- Crushed tomatoes (San marzano tomatoes are a great option)
- Anchovy fillets (you can also use anchovy paste, or leave it out if it's not your taste)
- Pitted black olives
- Fresh parsley, for garnish
How to make spaghetti alla puttanesca (step by Step)
Pasta alla puttanesca requires little time and will coon be one of your favorite pasta recipes!
Here is how to make it step by step:
Making the puttanesca sauce:
- Heat the oil in a large skillet pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and shallot, lightly fry for 8-10 mins, or until soft. Add the garlic and chilli, if using, and cook for another minute.
- Stir in the tomatoes, anchovies, olives and capers into the onion, bring to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, for 10 mins. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Boiling the spaghetti pasta
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Cook the spaghetti following the packet instructions until al dente, then drain and reserve ⅓ cup of pasta water. Add the pasta water to the sauce and stir to combine.
Making pasta the correct way:
- Stir occasionally with the proper utensil (our custom-made wooden spoons) to keep the pasta from sticking. Read How Long to Boil Spaghetti (pasta)- Perfect Every Time to cook the best pasta!
Finish the pasta dish:
Toss pasta with the sauce. Add parsley for garnish and serve hot. Mangia! (Eat!)
Variations to puttanesca sauce
This simple and delicious pasta dish is fantastic as is without additional toppings. If you crave a more hearty dish try adding a good quality canned tuna or salmon for an extra protein boost.
Wine - add a splash of white wine at the end of cooking to enhance the flavor of the sauce
Olives - you can also use kalamata olives for this recipe!
Try roasting your own cherry tomatoes to use in the sauce.
Puttanesca is a tomato based sauce that also contains anchovies, capers and olives, and red pepper flakes to add a bit of heat. Crushed red pepper flakes make things even better.
Most pastas last in the fridge for 3–5 days. Before storing the cooked pasta or leftovers let the pasta cool slightly. Make sure to use a proper airtight containers for storage.
The best substitute for anchovies varies by dish. Substitutes include fish sauce, shrimp paste, sardines, soy sauce, or miso. The only one I would recommend for this recipe is a bit of Worcestershire sauce (the amount to your liking). If I'm being honest, I will tell you that the taste of anchovies is not strong in this recipe. It creates more of an unami flavor that complements the sauce and pairs well with the taste of capers and olives. I would definitely try this recipe with the anchovy to try something new! I bet you will acquire a new appreciation for the taste.
Well, the name isn't pretty, or appropriate for that matter! As stated in the OED, puttanesca literally translates to, “a characteristic of a prostitute,”. I found this explanation, in Italy Magazine, to describe the different possible origins of the popular Italian dish: There is a theory that the dish was invented in one of many bordellos in the Naples working-class neighborhood of Quartieri Spagnoli. The explanations for the origin of puttanesca are many, just as the sources and scholars who have tried to trace the first inventive chef who began to call this spicy dish ‘puttanesca’. Originally, it was called ‘alla marinara’; the current name began to appear after World War II. Some say that the name originated in the brothels of the Spanish Quarters (whore is puttana in Italian, hence puttanesca).
Some argue that, the modern name of this preparation refers to pasta ‘prepared as it comes’, that is, easy to cook, without frills or complicated preparation.
Source: Italy Magazine
Long Pasta Shapes Like Spaghetti, Bucatini, Capellini and Spaghettini. These long strands are best paired with this rich tomato based sauce. Read more about what pasta shapes go best with which sauce here. The thick sauce will coat the strands evenly and won't get weighed down when wound up with a fork. Can you use short pasta for this recipe? Yes, absolutely. Use what you have on hand. I love this sauce with long pasta, but feel free to change it to your preference.
- When it comes to making Authentic Italian Spaghetti alla Puttanesca Sauce, there is one "rule" that everyone knows: No Parmigiano cheese. Italians don’t use cheese on seafood pasta dishes, and since there are anchovies in the dish, this is a big no-no. One more thing- no basil!
- Make sure to put the garlic in at the end of the first step (lightly frying the onions and shallots) and do not burn it. Burnt garlic is bitter and can ruin the whole dish!
- Cook your pasta to the perfect al dente by following my guide here. Boiling your pasta for too long will make it mushy.
- Toss the pasta with the sauce instead of just spooning it on top of the noodles. This will allow the pasta to soak up the sauce and give it a stronger flavor.
Storage and Reheating Instructions
What to serve with Spaghetti alla Puttanesca
This delicious pasta recipe is filling all on its own. All you need is some delicious Italian bread and a simple salad. If you want to go all out- serve these as an appetizer Best Italian Zucchini Fritters (easy recipe)!
More Recipes For YOU
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This pasta puttanesca recipe takes minutes to prepare, and that’s one of the secrets of its' success. It is a no fuss meal with pantry staples that tastes amazing.
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- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
- 5 anchovy fillets, finely chopped OR 1 tablespoon anchovy paste (you can leave it out)
- ½ cup, pitted black olives
- 2 tablespoons capers, drained
- 1 lb dried spaghetti or long pasta of choice
- ½ small bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped for garnish
- Salt to taste
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over a medium heat. Add the onion and shallot, lightly fry for 8-10 mins, or until soft. Add the garlic and chilli, if using, and cook for another minute.
- Stir in the tomatoes, anchovies, olives and capers into the onion, bring to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, for 10 mins. Season to taste.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to the boil. Salt generously with salt. Cook the spaghetti following packet instructions until al dente, then drain and reserve ⅓ cup of pasta water. Add the pasta water to the sauce and stir to combine.
- Toss pasta with the sauce. Add parsley for garnish and serve hot. Mangia! (Eat!)
- Prep Time: 5 min
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Savory
- Method: Italian
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: pasta, puttanesca, capers, red sauce, easy dinner, Italian recipe