Spicy, Salty, Savory, and Southern: Authentic Italian Puttanesca Pasta Recipe

Spicy, Salty, Savory, and Southern: Authentic Italian Puttanesca Pasta Recipe

Every home has a staple dish, and I am so happy to share this one with my readers: puttanesca.

The muddled history of puttanesca is as interesting as its flavors. Translated literally, puttanesca means “whore’s style,” and one possible explanation of its origin claims that brothels used the pasta’s enticing smell to lure in “guests.” If you’ve smelled this dish and the alluring smell of its olive, anchovy, and garlic-based sauce, you just might fall for this urban myth.

There is hardly a day when I am not in the mood for this pasta. The combination of the spicy peppers, salty olives, tangy capers, and garlic are perfectly offset by the fresh (and yet peppery) parsley. It’s divine! And, like every good Italian dish, it is perfect accompaniment to a glass of red wine.

Puttanesca Recipe

You will need:

1 can tomatoes

1 large anchovy

1/4 cup kalamata olives

1 tablespoon capers

5 garlic cloves chopped, not minced

3 large pinches of crushed red pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

1 package of penne pasta

1 bunch of parsley


1. Soak the anchovy and capers in water as you prepare the other ingredients.

2. Chop the garlic and pit the olives.

3. Hold the anchovy under cold running water and lightly rub your fingers along it to remove the skin. Then, remove from the water and gently peel the anchovy away from the spine. You should be left with a spine and ribs; don’t worry if a few bones are left with the meat of the fish because they will cook away in the sauce. Chop the anchovy into small pieces.

4. In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the olive oil. Add the chopped anchovy, garlic, crushed red pepper, and a pinch of salt. Cook until the garlic is lightly brown and salt.

5. Add the tomatoes and olives. Cook uncovered for 25 minutes on low heat. While this is cooking, start the water for your pasta.

6. Cook the pasta in salted water.

7. Immediately add the cooked, drained pasta to the sauce.

8. Top with chopped parsley and serve immediately. Enjoy with a glass of Italian red wine!


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