Pasta Puttanesca

5 from 2 votes

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Are you a pasta aficionado looking to add a little zest to your plate? Look no further than the intriguing and flavorful world of Pasta Puttanesca. This classic Italian dish with a funny name is sure to satisfy your craving for something both savory and tangy.

Pasta Puttanesca is a dish that hails from the southern regions of Italy, particularly Naples and the Amalfi coast. Despite its humble origins, it has quickly become a favorite on menus across the globe. The story behind the name of the dish is a little scandalous and shrouded in mystery, adding a touch of intrigue to the dish’s history.

pasta puttanesca with red sauce on a white plate
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Pasta Puttanesca

What sets Pasta Puttanesca apart is its bold combination of ingredients that come together to create a symphony of flavors. The base is made with spaghetti, though other types of pasta can be used as well. The sauce is where the magic happens. It’s a mix of tomatoes, garlic, anchovies, olives, capers, and chili flakes, all simmered together to create a complex and vibrant sauce.

There’s something irresistible about the contrast of flavors in Pasta Puttanesca. The sweetness of the tomatoes mingles with the saltiness of the anchovies, while the briny capers and olives add a burst of intense flavor. The hint of heat from the chili flakes gives the dish an extra kick that keeps your taste buds on their toes.

One of the biggest draws of Pasta Puttanesca is its simplicity. With just a handful of ingredients, it’s easy to whip up a delicious meal that’s full of character. It’s the perfect option for busy weeknights when you’re craving something hearty and satisfying without spending hours in the kitchen.

pasta puttanesca with red sauce and in a pan


  • Spaghetti
  • Garlic 
  • Anchovy paste or Anchovy filets
  • Diced tomatoes 
  • Red pepper flakes 
  • Kalamata olives 
  • Capers

Keep scrolling to find a full, printable recipe with a detailed ingredient list.

Recipe Instructions

  1. First you are going to cook and drain pasta then mix with olive oil.
  2. Sauté garlic in oil until fragrant. Now, whisk in anchovy paste.
  3. Add diced tomatoes, simmer 12-13 minutes.
  4. Mix in herbs and red pepper flakes briefly.
  5. Toss in cooked pasta to coat.
  6. Remove from heat, add olives and capers.
  7. Serve and savor!
ingredients of pasta puttanesca

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a different type of pasta?

Absolutely! While spaghetti is traditional, feel free to use your favorite pasta shape. Linguine, penne, or fusilli work well too.

Can I make this dish vegetarian?

Definitely. Skip the anchovy paste, and the dish will still be full of bold flavors from the other ingredients.

How can I adjust the spiciness?

If you prefer milder flavors, reduce the amount of red pepper flakes. If you love heat, add more flakes or even a touch of chili powder.

How do I prevent the pasta from sticking?

Mixing the cooked pasta with a bit of olive oil after draining helps prevent sticking. Give it a gentle stir occasionally as it cools.

4 photo collage of pasta putenesca

More Recipes

If you’ve tried this Pasta Puttanesca recipe or any other recipe on Bless This Mess, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some pictures of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories.

pasta puttanesca with red sauce on a white plate
5 from 2 votes

Pasta Puttanesca Recipe

Pasta Puttanesca is a bold and zesty Italian pasta dish that combines tomatoes, garlic, anchovies, olives, capers, and red pepper flakes for a flavorful and satisfying culinary experience.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 16 ounces spaghettie
  • 4 tablespoons oil, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon anchovy paste, or 3 anchovy filets
  • 28 ounces diced tomatoes, canned, juices drained
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
  • cup Kalamata olives, halved
  • 3 tablespoons capers
  • Salt and pepper to taste
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  • Cook the pasta according to the instructions. Drained, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil so they don’t stick. Set aside.
  • In a 10-inch skillet, over medium heat, add the 3 tablespoons of oil, minced garlic. Warm up until the garlic is fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the anchovy paste and whisk with the oil and garlic.
  • Add the diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. 12-13 minutes. Mix occasionally. If you like smaller pieces of tomatoes, as the mixture is simmering the tomatoes will be easier to chop into pieces.
  • Add the parsley, basil, and red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Mix and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes
  • Add the cooked pasta and toss to coat with the tomato sauce.
  • Take off the heat and add the olives and capers
  • Serve and enjoy!


  • Keep in mind the anchovy paste and capers are already salted. Cook the pasta in salted water, wait until the sauce is cooked, and add additional salt.
  • The red pepper flakes are optional
  • Storage: up to 3 days in the fridge
  • Re-warm: reheat in microwave or saucepan. If you reheat in the saucepan, I like to add about 2-3 tablespoons of water.
  • Make it spicy: Use the red pepper flakes or instead add some chopped Jalapeno peppers


Serving: 1 of 4 servings, Calories: 607kcal, Carbohydrates: 94g, Protein: 18g, Fat: 18g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g, Monounsaturated Fat: 11g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 3mg, Sodium: 517mg, Potassium: 664mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 327IU, Vitamin C: 19mg, Calcium: 106mg, Iron: 4mg
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Pasta Puttanesca is an Italian classic that captures hearts with its bold and distinctive flavors. From its intriguing history to its mouthwatering combination of ingredients, this dish is a testament to the artistry of Italian cuisine. Give Pasta Puttanesca a try and let your taste buds embark on a journey they won’t forget.

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