Two Puttanesca Pasta Sauce Recipes

Puttanesca - the Story

"The name originated in Naples after the local prostitutes, Pasta alla Puttanesca meaning "Pasta the way a whore would make it". The reason why the dish gained such a name is debated, though the most obvious contrast— with alla casalinga, simple "home-style" tomato sauce which has been "tarted up", as the English would say— is ignored for livelier original legends.

One possibility is that the name is a reference to the sauce's hot, spicy flavour and pungent smell. Another is that the dish was offered to prospective customers at a low price to entice them into a brothel. According to chef Jeff Smith of the Frugal Gourmet, its name came from the fact that it was a quick, cheap meal that prostitutes could prepare between customers."

Quoted From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Most recipes for Puttanesca sauce call for cooking the sauce. I believe this is the authentic way to create it. However, in researching the topic, I came across an interesting uncooked sauce. It sounds as if it would make a great cold pasta dish, and I'll have to try it next summer!

So - here are my two recipes.

Puttanesca Sauce - Hot


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves

  • 1 (28-ounce) can Roma plum tomatoes, broken into pieces, with juice
  • 1/2 cup tightly packed, pitted, and chopped Kalamata olives
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons minced anchovy fillets (about 8 fillets)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped or 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt


Heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and lightly caramelized, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and the remaining ingredient. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste, and serve over penne pasta.

Fresh Puttanesca Sauce


  • 1 lb beefsteak or Roma tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons drained capers, chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 anchovy fillets, patted dry and finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


Simply mix all ingredients together, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with either hot or cold pasta, preferably penne or linguine.

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Comments 3 comments

DaveHarris profile image

DaveHarris 8 years ago from London, UK

I lived in Italy for several years and this subject came up a number of times. The usual explanation there was that the sauce was hot, like the women! One needs to understand that prostitution is not looked down on so muchj in Italy as in some countries.

It is highly unlikely that kalamata olives would be used, especially around Napoli, as they are Greek, not Italian. And, of course, Napoli has it own type of olives (not surprisingly called "ulive di Napoli") which are very difficult to find elsewhere in Europe, let alone, say, the US.

Anchovies are a quintessential part of the dish and I have been told by Italians that this is another connection to its name!

In Italy (or elsewhere in Europe), you'd buy cans of chopped plum tomatos, especially as they're cheaper than the cans of whole ones (except in UK supermarkets :{ ).

NoLimits Nana 8 years ago

You're absolutely right about the kalamata olives, Dave - I love their flavor, so tend to use them, and they're usually more readily available than Italian ones.

kerryg profile image

kerryg 8 years ago from USA

Ooh, yummy! Thanks - I'll have to try these.

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