Puttanesca Pasta Sauce


Puttanesca Pasta Sauce served over pasta with cutlery lemon and cheese on the table

Puttanesca Pasta Sauce

Puttanesca Pasta Sauce is an old favourite. It gets trotted out when tomatoes are in season, or in the middle of winter when a can of tomatoes suffices. This puttanesca pasta sauce is made using canned tomatoes as the garden has long finished its daily harvest.

Puttanesca is a great pantry stand by recipe as we always have the necessary ingredients to hand. Big on flavour, quick on time. So tasty, this quick pasta will be a welcome addition to your repertoire.

Our cousin Kath gave us this Puttanesca recipe years ago and itʼs one that simply delivers. Food is such a social thing and nothing says compliment more than someone asking for the recipe. Sharing recipes is something we totally embrace. This puttanesca pasta sauce recipe has done the rounds more times than we can count. But itʼs one we never tire of making.


Extra virgin olive oil gently heated with anchovies, garlic and chilli giving the flavour base for Puttanescaʼs punchy, pungent, salty and spicy sauce.

Here weʼre using canned tomatoes. Take a moment to look at the ingredients on a can. You will see with most brands that the tomato component is anywhere from 45-60% tomatoes. Mmmm….that means that around half the can is water. Not good! Try to find a brand that is 99% tomatoes.

Strong harmony is introduced with the addition of fleshy black kalamata olives and piquant little capers.

 Gremolata magic

Top these layers of flavour off with a gremolata of finely chopped fresh Italian parsley, lemon zest, garlic and freshly ground pepper and really lift this puttanesca sauce to a new level. You’ll be eyeing a second serve!


Thirty minutes from starting this spicy puttanesca sauce and youʼre ready to scatter the puttanesca with the cheese. Parmesan if youʼre flush! Or its cheaper, but still flavoursome cousins like Grana Padano or pecorino takes this dish to the next comfort level.

Check out some more delicious and quick pasta recipes


Simplicity at its best. Do you have a favourite 30 minute pasta that delivers on flavour, cost and time? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.


Puttanesca Pasta Sauce

  • Author: Recipe Winners


Big on flavour, quick on time and oh so tasty. This quick pasta sauce will be a welcome addition to your repertoire.


  • 14oz (400g) dried spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 large anchovies
  • 10 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli with seeds or a good pinch of dried chilli flakes to taste
  • 28oz (800g) good quality canned tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 20 fleshy kalamata olives, pitted and halved
  • 2 tablespoons baby capers, rinsed
  • freshly milled black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
  • large handful fresh italian parsley, chopped
  • freshly grated parmesan 


  • heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat
  • add garlic, anchovies and chilli
  • stir over medium heat, mashing anchovies until they breakdown (use the back of a spoon to melt them)
  •  do not brown the garlic
  • add tomatoes, olives, capers and sugar and simmer gently until the sauce begins to thicken, 12-15 minutes
  • put a large pot of water on to boil
  • when water is boiling add the pasta
  • add lemon zest, parsley and pepper and gently stir through
  • add drained pasta and stir through to distribute
  • serve immediately with parmesan generously sprinkled over


  • if you have fresh ripe red tomatoes you can use them instead of the canned. Simply roughly hand chop into smallish dice.

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