Generally served with pasta, this sauce is a spicy mélange of tomatoes, onions, capers, black olives, anchovies, oregano and garlic, all cooked together in olive oil. A dish on a menu described as alla puttanesca signals that it’s served with this sauce. The name puttanesca is a derivation of puttana, which in Italian means “whore.” According to one story, the name purportedly comes from the fact that the intense fragrance of this sauce was like a siren’s call to the men who visited such “ladies of pleasure.” See also Sauce.
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