Named after Italy's "ladies of the night," this famous pasta dish is robust and satisfying. It is rumored that Italian streetwalkers used to make this dish late at night after finishing work because it was fast and easy. Indeed this dish is very easy to make as it calls primarily for ingredients straight out of the pantry. Penne pasta is cooked al dente and then topped with a tomato sauce that has been spiked with crushed red pepper flakes, olives, anchovies, and plenty of garlic for a spicy treat that few can resist. Serve with plenty of bread for sopping up the extra sauce! All that is needed to round out this lightning-fast meal is a green salad and a nice, fruity merlot.
Pasta Puttanesca
Seared Rapini with Lemon
Crusty Bread
Glasses of Merlot


1 pound penne or other pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 to 4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 to 6 anchovies, minced
3 pounds canned chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons capers
1/2 cup coarsely chopped kalamata olives
1/4 cup tightly packed italian parsley
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese (optional)

Cooking Instructions

Bring 4 quarts of well-salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the sauce.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pan. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes to the pan and cook for a minute or two, until the garlic is fragrant but not browned. Add the anchovies and cook for another 30 seconds or so. Add the tomatoes, along with the juices from the can, and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 5 minutes and then add the capers, olives, parsley, and red wine vinegar. Cook for another 3 minutes or so to allow all of the flavors to merge together. The sauce contains many salty ingredients so it is unlikely that you will need to add more salt, but it is a good idea to check for seasonings at this point anyway.

When the pasta has reached the al dente stage, drain it and place it in a large, pre-warmed bowl and top it with the sauce. Toss to mix the pasta and sauce together thoroughly. Garnsh the bowl with the grated pecorino romano cheese and additional chopped parsley and serve.

Makes 4 to 6 servings



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elliemay's blog

I prefer a short stubby pasta such as penne or orechiette in this dish because these shapes help to hold the sauce, but many puttanesca recipes call for noodles such as spaghetti or linguini instead. You can use whatever you prefer or have on hand. Try using puttanesca sauce on other foods too, such as chicken, fish, or broiled eggplant.

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