Pasta Puttanesca

With fresh herbs and a strong umami flavor, this is one of the easiest, most satisfying meals you can make in the time it takes to boil pasta.

Pasta puttanesca is so much bang for the buck. Packed with flavor, most of the ingredients are ones everyone should have on hand for quick and easy meals. But, if you’re like me, and perpetually understocked in the pantry with certain items, and overstocked in others (hello, beans), then a quick trip to the store will remedy the situation. Basically all you need are a can of whole peeled tomatoes, pasta, anchovies, black olives, fresh herbs, and capers. Basics worth stocking up on for those quick, umami-rich meals.

Pasta Puttanesca

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4
Author Tania Van Pelt


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 to 6 cloves of garlic lightly smashed, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 4 to 6 anchovy fillets
  • 1 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes
  • ½ cup fresh parsley stems and leaves, finely chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ cup pitted black olives preferably oil-cured, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup capers drained and patted dry
  • Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 pound linguine or other long pasta
  • Fresh herbs parsley, basil leaves, oregano..., for garnish
  • Sea salt to taste


  1. Bring pot of water to boil and salt it - you want it as salty as sea water.
  2. Warm 2 tablespoons oil with garlic, anchovies, and crushed red pepper in skillet over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is lightly golden.
  3. Drain tomatoes and crush with fork or hands. Add to skillet, with some salt and pepper. Raise heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes break down and mixture becomes saucy, about 10 minutes. Stir in olives and capers, and continue to simmer. Add the fresh parsley to the sauce and stir.
  4. Cook pasta, stirring occasionally, until it is tender but not mushy. Reserve a half cup of the pasta liquid. Drain pasta and toss with sauce, the pasta liquid, and remaining tablespoon of oil. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary, garnish with fresh herbs and serve.

Recipe Notes

I like a full tablespoon of crushed red pepper. One of the attractions of this pasta recipe is the spiciness. The salt and rich umami flavor mingled with the heat of the red pepper makes this addicting. So more is more, as far as I'm concerned. This is not a subtle dish.