Food & Drink

The Sordid Story of Puttanesca, the Prostitute Pasta Sauce

Published On 01/27/2016 Published On 01/27/2016
Cole Saladino/Thrillist
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Puttanesca Sauce Recipe

Total Time:  50-60 minutes
Yield:  4-6 servings


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 8 anchovy fillets packed in oil
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ cup pitted olives
  • ¼ cup drained capers
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • Zest of 1 lemon


  • Warm oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic and anchovies; cook until garlic is lightly golden and anchovies melt into the oil, 3-4 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and crush them with a fork or wooden spoon. Season to taste with 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, capers, basil, and red pepper flakes, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until it thickens, about 30 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest. Season again with salt and pepper to taste. Note: When cooking pasta, reserve some of the water to thin out the puttanesca as needed before serving.