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Puttanesca Sauce

Have you ever tried a homemade puttanesca sauce?  If you haven't, you're in for a real treat.  I can go into the history of the sauce and how it got its name, but for now, let's focus on the ingredients.  The combination of anchovies, capers, olives and tomatoes is a match unlike any other.  You can buy puttanesca at just about any well-stocked supermarket, but it's not going to have the depth of flavor that you get from my homemade version.  Start boiling your water in a large pot, get into your cupboard & choose your pasta.  Let's get started!

The Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 6 anchovy fillets, drained
  • 10 kalamata olives, pitted & coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons non pareil capers, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted tomato paste
  • 28 oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes, crushed with your hands
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 lb pasta (your choice)
In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat your olive oil and chili flakes until hot.  Add your diced onions and fry until softened & translucent, about 4 min.  Add your garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute, then add 2 pinches of salt and a big pinch of pepper.
Add your anchovy fillets and break them up with your wooden spoon.  Stir this until they are completely dissolved.  You don't want the anchovies burning so watch your heat.  Since the anchovies are already packed with salt, you don't need to add any more at this point.

Add your olives, capers and tomato paste.  Stir this mixture until the tomato paste is smooth.
Add your canned tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of the parsley and give everything a good stir.  Bring this mixture to a simmer, lower your heat and cover the pot with its lid.  The sauce should simmer at least 30 minutes.  45 minutes of simmering and you get an even thicker, richer sauce.  It's up to you!
This is what your finished sauce will look like.  It's thick, tasty and ready to smother your pasta.  Once it's done, add the final tablespoon of parsley. 
Served over thin spaghetti.  Delicious don't you think?

This sauce is so simple to make and your family is going to like it.  If there are picky eaters in your family, don't tell them it has anchovies (you won't even taste them when the sauce is done).  Leave them out, however, and you won't have the correct flavor of a true puttanesca sauce.  Before I forget, puttanesca is a good candidate for a number of pastas, such as thin spaghetti, regular spaghetti, linguine,  penne and even rotini.  Let me know what you think.  Buon Appetito!


  1. Can I just use a can of crushed tomatoes or tomato puree instead of whole?

  2. You can use precrushed tomatoes, but usually those purees are made from not-so-good, inferior tomatoes. Peeled whole tomatoes have to pretty much be unblemished in order to be canned that way & I kind of like the chunkiness of a sauce made from these. Happy eats!


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