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Puttanesca Sauce Recipe

Pasta in Puttanesca Sauce is another relatively modern Italian classic recipe. My easy and quick version is rich with anchovy, capers and parsley but it comes without olives.  I don’t like them and because I’m a “grown up” now and I don’t have to eat things I don’t like!

Portrait image of Bucatini pasta in a rich tomato sauce

Bucatini Pasta alla Puttanesca.

Just like many Italian favourites this recipe is a relatively modern creation. Similarly to pasta carbonara, it is unknown in writing until the second half of the 20th century.

It is famed for its speed, in fact, the colourful name which translates to ‘whores’ sauce refers to the fact that it is a meal that can be made quickly between punters.

Now I have no idea what that turn around time is, but my version is made in a leisurely 15 minutes. Although if I was in a rush I could easily push this out in 10 minutes easy.

There is another amusing story that the aroma of the dish was made to entice punters… Now I’m pretty sure that no punter ever went to a prostitute because of the aroma of her pasta!

You can add in pitted black olives if you like, just reduce the amount of capers and anchovy by about a half and add 50g of olives.

Portrait overhead image of Bucatini pasta in a tomato sauce

What Pasta To Use.

I have eaten this recipe with everything from Spaghetti through to farfalle, although spaghetti alla puttanesca is the most common pairing.

However, my favourite pasta pairing with this sauce is bucatini. It is a long spaghetti type of shape with a hollow hole through the middle.

It is most commonly associated with Bucatini All Amatriciana. That is another famed pasta recipe featuring a tomato sauce loaded with big flavours.

I personally find the more robust nature of bucatini a better fit for the stronger flavours in this recipe.

But you should definitely fill your boots and use whatever pasta you want to.

Just cook it for a minute less than it says on the packet, then add it to the sauce and finish the cooking.

Portrait close up image of Bucatini pasta in a tomato sauce

The Herbs and Tomatoes…

Like my tomato tuna pasta recipe, I strongly favour fresh parsley as the herb in this recipe. The almost citrus hint marries with the flavours very well.

Fresh basil is another herb that is often mentioned as a good addition. I personally am not keen on the almost metallic nature of basil with the capers sharpness.

Although the sweetness of the basil is quite nice.

The most important thing with the herbs in this meal is that they are not a garnish!

They are an ingredient, not a splash of colour. If you cannot taste them and they add nothing to a recipe then omit them!

As for tomatoes, I strongly prefer tomato passata. It leads to a silky smooth sauce in no time. You could blend tinned tomatoes if you want to achieve the same finish.

I note that there is a recent trend of adding red pepper to this recipe, I have no idea why.

I do not think that it works, they need longer cooking to a recipe famed for its speed. Cooking them for just the 10-12 minutes that this recipe takes to cook leaves the peppers too uncooked for this recipe.

Square image of Bucatini pasta in a Puttanesca sauce served in a shallow white bowl
Yield: 2 Servings

Pasta with Puttanesca Sauce

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Pasta Puttanesca is a modern classic easy Italian pasta dish, it gets its 'colourful' name from its speed. This is done and dusted in 15 minutes and is loaded with great ingredients.


  • 200 g Bucatini Pasta
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 Tsp Dried Chilli Flakes
  • 2 Tbsp Capers
  • 6 Anchovy Fillets
  • 100 ml Tomato Passata
  • 1 Tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 10 g Fresh Chopped Parsley
  • Salt to Taste


  1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and generously add salt.
  2. Meanwhile bring a wide large frying pan to temperature over a medium-high heat.
  3. When the water is boiling add the pasta and cook for a minute less than it says on the packet.
  4. Add the oil to the pan and when warm add the garlic.
  5. Roughly chop the anchovies and capers.
  6. When the garlic begins to brown at the edges add in the anchovies and reduce the temperature to medium.
  7. When the anchovies begin to dissolve add in the capers, chili flakes and tomato puree and stir.
  8. Finally add in the passata, stir and allow to the sauce to gently plop along until the pasta is cooked.
  9. Drain the pasta, add to the sauce along with the parsley.
  10. Mix well and serve!

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 412Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 946mgCarbohydrates: 53gFiber: 4gSugar: 3gProtein: 13g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!


Friday 8th of May 2020

I've been looking for a recipe like this forever. Can't wait to try it. Makes me hungry just reading it!

Brian Jones

Saturday 9th of May 2020

Enjoy Pat :)


Friday 2nd of August 2019

Thanks Brian, this is a very good and easy meal. We loved it..???

Brian Jones

Saturday 3rd of August 2019

Glad to hear it :)


Thursday 1st of August 2019

That was a great dish , loved it . More pasta dishes please ?

Brian Jones

Friday 2nd of August 2019

You are in for a treat as I have a real good one heading your way Monday, I like this one a lot ;)

Brian Jones

Wednesday 24th of July 2019

Thanks, enjoy

Brian Jones

Wednesday 24th of July 2019

Me too!

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