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Pasta Puttanesca

Legend has it that this savory recipe was a favorite of “ladies of the night” in Italy (the term “puttanesca” derives from “puttana,” the Italian word for “prostitute”), who quickly prepared and ate the dish between clients. Now, of course, it’s simply known as a flavorful meal that’s easy to make in just a few minutes.

  • servings: 4




  • Coarse salt
  • 1 pound spaghetti or linguine
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
  • 10 anchovies, crushed
  • 1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes, seeded, chopped, and strained, reserving juice
  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives (3 ounces), pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


  1. Step 1

    Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and pasta, and cook until pasta is al dente, about 12 minutes. Drain.

  2. Step 2

    While pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, red-pepper flakes, and anchovies. Cook, stirring, until aromatic, 1 to 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, reserved juice, capers, and olives. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer, and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

  3. Step 3

    Stir pasta into sauce. Cook, stirring, until sauce clings to pasta, about 2 minutes. Stir in parsley. Serve immediately.

Martha Stewart Living, April 2001



Reviews (2)

  • 25 Sep, 2011

    Love this, BU,T use only 1/2 l/b pasta and we chose not to do anchovies. Have made this for years.

  • 1 Mar, 2008

    Anchovies are too strong for me. Use fresh frozen mackerel or salmon. I also add a teaspoon of tomato paste instead of the pepper flakes so the taste of the fish is not overpowered.