La Puttanesca

Puttanesca Pasta


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

This sauce is named after the famous Roman ‘ladies of the night’, who are as strident, garish and obvious as the bold flavours of this sauce. The key here is that all the ingredients should sing out so that you can taste each one individually as well as blending beautifully to create the overall taste of the sauce. It is crucial not to add the olives until the end of cooking, and not to omit the dried oregano, which is absolutely essential for the flavour.


  • 120 ml/4 fl oz/½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-3 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
  • 3 anchovy fillets (either salted or canned in oil), rinsed and patted dry on kitchen paper
  • 1-3 small dried red chillies, according to taste, finely chopped
  • 25 ml/1 ½ tbsp salted capers, rinsed, dried and chopped
  • 300 g/11 oz passata/bottled strained tomatoes or canned chopped tomatoes
  • 5 ml/1 tsp dried oregano
  • 90 ml/6 tbsp dry white wine
  • 400 g/14 oz penne or spaghetti
  • a handful of pitted black olives
  • 30 ml/2 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • sea salt and ground black pepper


  1. Heat half the oil in a pan and fry the garlic with the anchovy fillets and dried chillies, until the anchovies disintegrate.

  2. Add the capers and passata or canned tomatoes, and stir together. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the oregano, salt and pepper, and wine. Stir, then simmer gently for at least 15 minutes, or up to 30 minutes if you have time.

  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pan of lightly salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and stir. Return to the boil and cook according to the pack instructions until al dente. Drain and return to the pan.
  4. Add the olives to the sauce and stir through. Pour the sauce over the pasta and add the remaining olive oil and the parsley. Toss together and serve.