Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pasta Puttanesca

Pin It

This is the famous dish of the ladies of the night and, aside from chicken soup, my first  
real meal in three weeks.  The only reason it came about is an email from La Cucina Italiana which landed in my inbox this morning featuring it as the recipe of the day.   Boy did it look good.  Just the fact that I made it tonight is a good endorsement as to how little time it takes to prepare.

You will find my version to be on the milder and less salty side which I get by soaking the capers in water before adding them to the sauce.  Don't miss adding the anchovy paste which is typical of the Neapolitan version.  You will not even know it's there but it does add a lot to the flavor of the sauce.  A little sugar serves to balance the acidity in the tomatoes.

This is the kind of recipe you want to keep on hand for a quick midweek meal or for a Friday night at the ski or lake house. The ingredients are all staples that should be in your pantry.  All you need is a loaf of French bread and a sturdy red wine.

I did not have fresh basil but I did have some in cubes which I keep in the freezer.  What I do is chop the basil, place it in ice cube trays and cover with olive oil. Once the cubes are frozen, I taken them out and keep them in freezer bags. They come in handy in the dead of winter.

I don't know how long this malaise will linger now that the worst part of the flu is over;  but, in the meantime, I will try my best to entertain you with simple recipes and some stories.

Pasta Puttanesca

yield: Makes 6 servings                          

  • 1 pound dried spaghetti, spaghettini, or linguine fini
  • 5 garlic cloves, forced through a garlic press or pounded with the back of a knife and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice (preferably San Marzano or Pomi crushed tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • Pinch of sugar (optional)
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped basil


Bring a large saucepan of salted water to boil.  Soak the capers in water for a couple of minutes.

Heat oil, garlic and hot pepper flakes in a large skillet over medium heat until warm.

Add anchovy paste and continue to heat,  Add tomatoes and stir to combine.

Add olives, capers, pinch of sugar and tomato paste; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, about 8 minutes.  Add basil.

Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente. Drain pasta and return to pot. Immediately add sauce and stir to combine; warm over low heat, tossing, until sauce coats pasta well, about 1 minute.

Serve immediately.


  1. Pasta Puttanesca was often a mid-week dinner special at my favorite Greenwich Village restaurant in the 1980s & 90s, The Paris Commune.

    1. The perfect dish for a restaurant with a name like that!Now you can make it at home and dream...

  2. Going to make this tonight.Thanks for the reminder. I used to count on a dish like this when I came in from the garden and was too tired to cook.
    So happy to hear you are on the mend.

    BTW you can freeze basil as is, in a plastic bag.

    1. Hah! that's great news. Thought basil would get wimpy if frozen as is.

    2. The basil will be wimpy if left to thaw. Use it directly from the bag into the pot. Flavor good as fresh.

  3. One of my favorite dishes!
    Glad you are feeling better, and up and around!
    Have you seen the small cubes of basil (frozen) at Trader Joe's? Very small, in a cute package of 12; perfect when you're in a pinch for basil. Also comes with garlic cubes.
    A kiss to the sous-chef!

    1. I seldom go to Trader Joe's. It's not near where I live but will definitely check out when I stop at the one in Atlanta. Wet kisses back from the SC!

  4. Sounds delicious, nice to know you are healthy and in the kitchen again. Going to make the PP this week.

  5. This is probably my favorite italian dish. It is so fresh. My italian friend said her father made it late each night for everyone. He said to use only whole stewed tomatoes as they were the most perfect.


Thank you for visiting Lindaraxa. Your comments are much appreciated.

Pin It button on image hover