Creatively Transforming Food

Pasta Puttanesca

Pasta Puttanesca  is a sensory celebration of flavors. It’s fragrant and spicy. The smell permeates the house and lures Jim down to the kitchen as if under a spell. He hovers, awaiting its pleasure. My husband indicates it’s orgasmic! Yeah, it’s that good!

Puttanesca  originated in Naples.  It’s association with “ladies of the evening” make for entertaining tales of its roots. This sauce is quick to assemble and cook  Most original puttanesca recipes call for anchovies, which I chose to leave out as well as the parsley, which I find bitter. An afterthought was to chiffonade some basil, which I have an abundance of,  to place on the top. There’s always next time!

Here are most of the ingredients including the fresh oregano. If you don’t have fresh herbs available, you could certainly use dried. In place of 1 T. fresh, use 1 t. dried. Purchasing pitted olives will certainly reduce the prep time.

Once you have added the garlic and red pepper flakes to the olive oil , turn the heat down a little and add the other ingredients all at once. Be careful adding the tomatoes since the juice may spatter back the hot oil.  Look at those beautiful colors!


Stir occasionally for about 10 minutes while pasta begins to cook. If you prefer to thin the sauce, use a little bit of the reserved pasta water.


Place desired amount of  sauce on top of pasta or mix pasta with sauce and serve. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and enjoy.


Pasta Puttanesca
  • I pound box of pasta, your choice- See note below.
  • ½ c. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 cloves of pressed garlic
  • 1 t. red pepper flakes
  • 1-28 oz. can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes-including the juices-I use Muir Glen.
  • 1 T. fresh basil, chopped or 1 t. dried basil if fresh is not available
  • 1 T. fresh oregano, chopped- 1 t. dried oregano if fresh is not available.
  • ½ c. Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 3 T. capers
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • ½ c. Chianti or Merlot
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Heat salted water to boiling and cook pasta to "al dente" stage. Try to time it so the sauce is done prior to the pasta.
  2. Drain and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.
  3. Heat olive oil in saucepan over low-medium heat.
  4. Add pressed garlic and red pepper and cook about 30 seconds.
  5. Slowly add in the tomatoes, basil, oregano, olives, capers, wine and tomato paste.
  6. Stir to combine and turn heat up to medium.
  7. Cook while stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes.
  8. If the sauce is thicker than you like, add the reserved pasta water, a little at a time, until you obtain your desired consistency.
  9. Place sauce over pasta and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.
  10. Note: You probably will not use entire amount of pasta for this recipe. You may combine pasta with the sauce, if using a 12 ounce box of pasta. Or, you may cook ¾ of the one pound box and save the rest for another dish.


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