Pasta alla Puttanesca

Published On September 11, 2008 | By Deborah Smith, Executive Editor | Italian, Jersey Tomatoes, Pasta

Pasta is a rare treat for me these days. My kids actually can’t stand pasta unless its Kraft Mac and Cheese. I know, its a shameful admission, believe me. I blame it on the fact that we do not have one speck of Italian blood on either side of the family. My Grandfather wouldn’t even allow garlic in the house. Now that’s just sacrilege even to a non-Italian like me.

Sorry for this less than fabulous picture. I am usually much more artistic with my “food styling” but I was starving and couldn’t wait to dive in. You’re lucky there’s a picture here at all. There’s a much prettier picture on Nook & Pantry along with some great nutritional information. The author of N & P does say the dish is salty enough and not to put Parmesan on the dish, but I never leave Parmesan off of anything.

I remember back in the 90’s thinking I was being so diet conscious when I ate a big bowl of pasta for dinner. Ah, the good old days. These days, my 40+ year old waistline does not take kindly to flour of any kind. I know, I know, there’s whole wheat and the “Plus” pastas, but, sometimes, it’s nice to splurge and have the real thing. Saturday night seemed to be the night to do it.

As you know, we’re dealing with a never ending supply of tomatoes right now, so I set my sites on a simple tomato sauce, but then I remembered how much I used to love Pasta Puttanesca. That link there has lot’s of good information on where the name supposedly comes from and hey, Wikipedia’s picture is even uglier than mine. Ha!

I hadn’t made Puttanesca in years and never used fresh tomatoes before. If you’ve never had it, it is so worth a try. It packs a nice heat from the crushed red pepper and a depth of flavor you would never guess those oily little Anchovies could deliver. I took to the internet and found a recipe that looked good enough. I substituted the 2 cans of peeled tomatoes for 4 cups of fresh diced tomatoes. The end result was “lick the bowl good.” No kidding, I was up in the middle of the night thinking about how good it was and how I wished to God there were leftovers. (Geez, maybe I should allow myself pasta from time to time.)

As you can see, we piled our bowls to overload capacity and finished every stinkin’ bite. I even got a hunk of bread and finished off the sauce. Hey, if I was going carb crazy, might as well go all the way, right?

So here’s my version of Pasta alla Puttanesca con pomodori freschi. (I used IGoogle for the translation so I hope it’s right. I told you I have not an Italian bone in my body.) I hope you enjoy it and trust me, try to save some for leftovers, or better yet, double the recipe. It calls for a pound of pasta but there was not enough sauce so I only used about 1/2 – 3/4 of a pound.


1 lb. pasta (your favorite)

4 cups diced fresh red tomatoes

1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tsp. dried Oregano

1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes

1/2 Cup sliced black olives

1/4 Cup capers

4 cloves chopped garlic

8 Flat Anchovy fillets in oil, chopped

1/2 Cup Parsley, chopped

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

Shredded Parmegiano Regiano


Cook pasta in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (2 1/2 Tbsp salt for 6 qt water) until barely al dente.

While pasta boils, saute garlic, anchovies, red-pepper flakes, oregano, in olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until anchovies melt, about 2 minutes.

Add diced tomatoes, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper to pan and gently stir until tender. This does not take long. You can stir until they are mush or keep them chunky. I preferred them on the chunky side. Add capers and olives and saute 1 to 2 minutes.

Drain pasta and add to sauce. Simmer, turning pasta with tongs, until pasta is al dente, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with sprinkled Parmesan on top, or not.

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4 Responses to Pasta alla Puttanesca

  1. John and Lisa Howard-Fusco says:

    Who’s Al Dente?

    Hee hee. Pasta puttanesca is one of the few ways in which I will actually eat something with anchovies. – John

  2. Deborah, Site Administrator says:

    You’re a funny one John. I told you I have no idea who Al Dente is. He’s definitely not one of my relatives.

    I’ve never tasted anchovies plain, always melted into a sauce. I don’t think I want to either. They’re pretty nasty looking.

  3. Janine says:

    This looks delicious! Have to try it. I’m a Jersey girl and mom as well:)

  4. Pingback: Jersey Bites - Jersey Tomatoes

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