How to make Puttanesca pasta sauce

One of the beautiful things about pasta is that you can create an unforgettable dish in minutes. All over Italy, most regions have a go-to quick pasta recipe that they turn to when they need a quick dinner turn around. The dishes usually contain seasonal local produce and you can have dinner on the table withing 15-20 minutes. Fundamentally though, the best thing about these recipes is that they taste amazing and when you finish one plate, you will just want to serve yourself more.

Puttanesca pasta is one of those dishes. Originally from Naples, this dish literally translates into ‘whore’ and apparently favourited by the ‘women of the night’ who use to rustle up this dish between tricks. No time to mess about, but there was always time to eat pasta, of course.

This sauce is mainly made up of garlic, tomatoes, anchovies, capers and olives. Vegetarians/vegans you can leave out the anchovies and add more garlic and capers. However the backbone of this dish is the tomatoes sauce and due to the lack of flavour in our British tomatoes, my recipe includes sun dried tomato paste/pesto to give the sauce an extra punch. At the moment, I’m in love with the Il Belice range from west Sicily and they have great sun dried tomato pasta.

It’s dishes like these that I feel are so suited for London living. They is no excuse for anyone with a kitchen to not give it ago. You don’t need many ingredients and most can be found in all local supermarkets, plus everyone should have a spare 20 minutes in their day to want too cook a delicious and healthy dinner. So, don’t think about it for too long, treat yourself and cook a lovely puttanesca pasta dish for you and your pals.

Ingredients - 4 people

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 3-4 anchovy slices
  • Chilli flakes
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 80g black pitted olives, chopped
  • 2 tbsp sun dried tomato pesto (optional)
  • 400g pasta
  • Fresh basil (to serve)


  1. First, put a large pan of water on to the boil.
  2. While you wait for the water to come to the boil, drizzle olive oil in a wide pan. Add the chopped garlic, anchovies and chilli flakes. Cook for a few minutes until the anchovies dissolve.
  3. Next, add the cherry tomatoes. Add a couple of tablespoons of water. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes. You want the tomatoes to breakdown and create a sauce.
  4. At this point, start cooking the pasta in the boiling water, as instructed on the packet.
  5. When the tomatoes have broken down into a sauce, add the capers and olives, stir into the sauce and cook for a couple more minutes.
  6. When the pasta has cooked, drain and add to the sauce.
  7. Add the sun dried tomato pesto and give all the ingredient a good stir, (optional).


  1. WOW ! looks really delicious My Favorite Pasta Recipes !! really helpful artical. thank……….

  2. Pasta puttanesca has long been a favorite of mine. I love your choice of pasta too – busiate.

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