This Pasta Puttanesca Recipe is made with onion, garlic, white wine, tomatoes, capers, olives, and topped on al dente spaghetti.
Pasta Puttanesca is a classic Italian dish that packs a punch of bold flavors. Originating from Naples, this dish has a unique name that has an interesting history. It's a quick and easy dish to make, which makes it perfect for a weeknight dinner. The sauce is made with simple ingredients like tomatoes, garlic, olives, capers, and anchovies, which combine to create a flavorful and savory sauce. The addition of red pepper flakes adds a bit of heat to the dish, making it a favorite for those who love spicy food.
Savory and sweet, spicy and bold, pasta puttanesca packs a punch that will make your taste buds salivate with each slurpy bite. The word puttanesca translates roughly to "lady of the night." We make this pasta with capers, olives and garlic although it traditionally contains anchovies. The best part? It takes 20 minutes to make.
- What is Pasta Puttanesca?
- What Does Puttanesca Mean In Italian?
- Why is pasta puttanesca so great?
- Pasta Puttanesca Recipe Ingredients
- How to make Pasta Puttanesca
- What Can I Use If I Don’t Have Anchovies?
- What to serve with Pasta Puttanesca?
- Pasta Puttanesca Recipe Variations
- How to store Pasta Puttanesca
- Pasta Puttanesca Recipe Top tips
- Pasta Puttanesca Recipe
- Food safety
What is Pasta Puttanesca?
Pasta Puttanesca is a traditional Italian pasta dish that originates from Naples. The dish is typically made with spaghetti, although other types of pasta can also be used, and is topped with a sauce made from tomatoes, garlic, olives, capers, anchovies, and red pepper flakes. The sauce is usually cooked quickly in a pan and then tossed with the cooked pasta. It's a quick and easy dish to make, and the flavors of the salty, briny sauce pair perfectly with the al dente pasta. It's a popular dish both in Italy and around the world.
What Does Puttanesca Mean In Italian?
The word "puttanesca" comes from the Italian word "puttana", which means "prostitute". It is said that the dish was named after the ladies of the night who would make it for themselves in between clients. The strong, bold flavors of the dish are said to reflect the bold and fiery personalities of these women. There are several theories about why the dish is named after prostitutes, but one popular theory is that the strong, pungent aroma of the sauce was used to lure customers into brothels.
Why is pasta puttanesca so great?
Pasta Puttanesca is a great dish for several reasons. Firstly, it's a quick and easy dish to make, which is perfect for busy weeknights or when you don't have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen. Secondly, the sauce is bursting with flavor from the combination of garlic, olives, capers, and anchovies, which gives the dish a unique and bold taste. Thirdly, it's a versatile dish that can be made with a variety of pasta types, such as spaghetti, linguine, or penne. Fourthly, it's a budget-friendly dish, as the ingredients used are simple and inexpensive. Finally, it's a crowd-pleaser that is loved by many and is a great option to serve for dinner parties or family gatherings.
Pasta Puttanesca Recipe Ingredients
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- Olive oil
- White wine
- Whole plum tomatoes
- Red pepper flakes
- Black olives
- Parmesan (if not vegan)
See recipe card for Pasta Puttanesca Recipe quantities.
How to make Pasta Puttanesca
In a large pan, add olive oil and onion and cook until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic until it starts to brown, around 1 minute. Pour in the white wine and stir. Bring to a simmer until wine evaporates by half, about 4 minutes.
Add the crushed tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes.
Add the olives, capers, red pepper flakes and cook for another 6 minutes.
Stir in the basil and simmer, covered, for another 5 minutes.
Top the pasta with the sauce and parmesan cheese. Enjoy this Pasta Puttanesca Recipe.
What Can I Use If I Don’t Have Anchovies?
- Soy Sauce: Use a small amount of soy sauce as a substitute for anchovies. It will provide a similar savory flavor to the dish.
- Worcestershire Sauce: Worcestershire sauce is another great substitute for anchovies. It has a similar umami flavor and is commonly used in many pasta sauces.
- Miso Paste: Miso paste can be used as a substitute for anchovies as well. It's a great source of umami flavor and can add depth to the dish.
- Capers: If you don't have anchovies, you can also use capers as a substitute. Capers are small, pickled buds that have a similar salty flavor to anchovies.
What to serve with Pasta Puttanesca?
- Garlic bread - Slices of bread brushed with garlic-infused olive oil and toasted until crispy, garlic bread is a classic accompaniment to pasta dishes.
- Grilled vegetables - Grilled vegetables, such as zucchini, eggplant, and bell peppers, are a great way to add some fresh flavors and textures to the meal.
- Simple salad - A simple green salad with a light vinaigrette can help balance out the richness of the pasta and provide a refreshing side dish.
- Antipasto platter - An antipasto platter with cured meats, cheeses, marinated vegetables, and olives is a great way to start the meal and can be enjoyed alongside the pasta.
- Roasted potatoes - Roasted potatoes seasoned with herbs and spices can be a great complement to the pasta and provide a hearty side dish.
- Capers: Capers are usually found in the canned goods at the grocery store, beside the pickles and jalapeños. They are lemony, briney, and salty and pair so well on this dish.
- Olive oil: I used good quality extra virgin olive oil.
- Tomatoes: I used diced tomatoes from the can instead of fresh tomatoes. The San Marzano whole tomatoes are always the way to go.
- Garlic: For best results, use fresh garlic.
- Olives: You can buy pre sliced Kalamata olives but you can use any black olive and slice them yourself.
Pasta Puttanesca Recipe Variations
- Vegetarian version - To make a vegetarian version of Pasta Puttanesca, simply omit the anchovies or replace them with a vegetarian substitute, such as capers or miso paste.
- Seafood version - Adding seafood, such as shrimp or clams, can add extra flavor and texture to the dish.
- Spicy version - For those who love heat, adding extra red pepper flakes or using spicier peppers, such as habanero or serrano, can make the dish extra spicy.
- Creamy version - Adding a bit of heavy cream to the sauce can create a creamy and rich version of the dish.
- Eggplant version - Adding roasted or sautéed eggplant to the sauce can add a meaty texture and a touch of sweetness to the dish.
- Deluxe - Make a Pizza Puttanesca with the sauce.
- Large pot for cooking pasta - A large pot is needed for boiling the pasta until it's al dente.
- Colander - A colander is used to drain the cooked pasta.
- Large skillet or saucepan - A large skillet or saucepan is needed for making the sauce and cooking the pasta.
- Wooden spoon or spatula - A wooden spoon or spatula is used for stirring the sauce and the pasta.
- Chef's knife - A sharp chef's knife is needed for chopping the garlic, onions, and other ingredients.
- Cutting board - A cutting board is used to chop the ingredients.
- Grater - A grater can be used to grate Parmesan cheese for garnishing the pasta.
How to store Pasta Puttanesca
- Let it cool: Let the Pasta Puttanesca cool down to room temperature before storing it.
- Store in an airtight container: Transfer the pasta to an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag. Make sure to press out any excess air before sealing the container.
- Refrigerate: Place the container in the refrigerator and make sure it is stored at a temperature of 40°F or below.
- Reheat: When you are ready to eat the leftover pasta, reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop until it is heated through. If the pasta seems dry, you can add a bit of olive oil or pasta water to moisten it up.
Pasta Puttanesca Recipe Top tips
- Use good quality ingredients: Since Pasta Puttanesca has few ingredients, it's important to use high-quality ones. Use ripe San Marzano tomatoes, high-quality olives, and anchovies packed in olive oil for the best flavor.
- Cook the pasta al dente: Make sure to cook the pasta until it's al dente, which means it's cooked but still has a firm bite. Overcooked pasta will become mushy and won't hold up well in the sauce.
- Don't skip the anchovies: Anchovies are a key ingredient in Pasta Puttanesca, providing a deep, savory flavor to the sauce. Even if you're not a fan of anchovies, they add a great depth of flavor to the dish.
- Use a good-quality pasta: Since there are so few ingredients in the dish, the quality of the pasta matters. Choose a high-quality pasta made from durum wheat for the best texture and flavor.
- Adjust the spice level: Pasta Puttanesca is meant to be a spicy dish, but you can adjust the heat to your liking. Add more or less red pepper flakes depending on your preference.
- Add fresh herbs: Garnish your Pasta Puttanesca with fresh parsley or basil for added flavor and a pop of color.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove