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A pan of pasta puttanesca.

Pasta a la Puttanesca

5 from 1 vote
Created by Mariam E.
Made with simple pantry staples, this Pasta Puttanesca recipe is a spicy tomato-based Italian dish that you can whip up in a jiffy. Filled with garlic, anchovies, olives, and capers, this pasta is beyond flavorful. So simple and delicious this is ready in 30 minutes.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 servings


  • 1 lb spaghetti noodles
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4-6 garlic cloves thinly sliced
  • 4 anchovy filets in oil
  • 1 28 oz can San Marzano diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • ½ cup kalamata olives halved
  • 3 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parmesan cheese grated
  • 2 tablespoons parsley chopped
  • fresh basil to garnish


  • Cook the spaghetti in salted water according to the package instructions (minus 2 minutes). Once done, drain the water and reserve a ½ cup of pasta water for later use and keep the spaghetti aside.
  • Heat a large skillet and add olive oil on a medium flame. Add garlic and anchovy fillets. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the anchovies start to break down.
  • Stir in the diced tomatoes along with the seasonings; red chili flakes, pepper and salt. Cook for 5-7 minutes.
  • Add the olives and capers. Transfer the cooked spaghetti to the sauce and toss. If needed, add the reserved pasta water.
  • Finally grate the fresh parmesan cheese on top and garnish with parsley and basil. Serve the pasta while it is still warm.


  • When cooking the pasta, use enough water so once the pasta begins to expand, there will still be plenty of room for the noodles to move freely. 
  • As soon as you drop the pasta in the water, stir it so the pasta doesn’t stick together.
  • Anchovies add a lot of umami to the pasta. They add saltiness and savory depth of flavor to the pasta. If you do not want to use anchovies, you can use anchovy paste instead.
  • Puttanesca is not traditionally served with parmesan as there’s already a ton of saltiness from the anchovies but who doesn’t love a sprinkle of parmesan on top! If you want a less salty dish, feel free to skip it. 
  • Feel free to use black olives or green olives if you don’t have kalamata olives.
  • While you can use any canned tomatoes, San Marzano tomatoes are full of flavor and don’t contain many seeds, so they’re perfect for making tomato sauce.
  • If you prefer spicier pasta, feel free to add more red pepper flakes to the sauce.
  • You can use any variety of pasta, not just spaghetti. 


Calories: 378kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 3mg | Sodium: 521mg | Potassium: 469mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 438IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 96mg | Iron: 3mg
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