Pasta Puttanesca Recipe

Pasta puttanesca recipe from
Pasta Puttanesca is an incredibly easy, speedy meal to put together, and that’s no surprise, given its origins. You see, “puttanesca” refers to the, er, “working girls” in Italy who made this quick pasta sauce between, er, customers. Let’s just say they knew their way around the kitchen, too, because this is a delicious meal that comes together in mere minutes. It’s even faster if you’re using leftover noodles; just heat them for a minute in boiling water and drain.

Now, while I add tuna into ours, it’s just as delicious without it. Caper-haters can skip them, but do bump up the amount of green olives if you leave the capers out. Their saltiness mixes so wonderfully with the fresh tomatoes and parsley!

Pasta Puttanesca
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A speedy dish that takes its name from the limited amount of time that Italy's "working girls" had to make and eat dinner between, er, customers.
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Serves about: 4
  • 1 pkg. (1 lb.) angel hair, spaghetti or linguine pasta
  • 1 5-oz. can tuna in water, drained and flaked
  • 1 Roma tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ oz. flat leaf parsley, minced
  • 1 red chili, chopped (optional)
  • 12 green olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tbsp. capers, drained and rinsed
  • 2-3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, put remaining ingredients (except for Parmesan cheese) in bowl and mix well.
  3. Add pasta and toss with sauce.
  4. Garnish with Parmesan cheese if desired.


Leaving the tuna out turns this into a wonderful meatless meal. Serve it with a tossed salad or roasted zucchini. Unfortunately, this doesn’t freeze well but that’s fine — we very rarely have any leftovers when I serve Pasta Puttanesca in our house!

Equipment I Use To Make This:

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  • Conny

    had no idea about the history of the name of this meal!!!  BUT it sounds delicious – and since I gave up on my diet – um like the day I started it!!!! – I think I could eat this!!  :)  Lots of this!!!!  :) 
    PS  Thanks for your comment on my blog! 

  • KatieB

    Conny, I enjoy your blog quite a lot! I had no idea about the origins of this name, either. Imagine how red-faced I was when my 12 y/o asked me what “puttanesca” means and I looked it up! He’d read about it in the Lemony Snicket books and wanted to try it. Doh!

  • amy donovan

    i loooove a good puttanesca sauce + this one sounds fabulous. yum! + thanks for the tip you left on my blog about the rice krispie treats – i never thought about wetting my hands to make patting them down easier, but they were super sticky, so i will DEFINITELY use that technique next time!

    • Katie B.

      You’re welcome! But I have to tell you, I had dreams of that cookie-flavored stuff last night. Sure hope my grocery store carries it!

      • amy donovan

        it is sooo good. our local tiny Kroger just started carrying it a few weeks ago, which has been very very dangerous for me + my waistline. also, Trader Joe’s carries it’s own line, called Speculoos Cookie Butter, if you have a Trader Joe’s near you! =)

      • Katie B.

        Yes! My husband found it at Dillon’s (our Kroger) and it’s everything I dreamed of, and more! Unfortunately, I was write: it’s delicious by the spoonful. I have a feeling I’m going to hate my pants tomorrow. Thank goodness it’s sundress weather!

      • amy donovan

        woohoo! glad you found it – break out the sundresses + enjoy. =)

  • Lina Bickel

    Yummy recipe and fantastic blog!  No time for a detailed comment because I have exploring to do :-)

  • Katie B of

    Thank you! I hope you found plenty to enjoy. :)

  • Jenn Oates

    I can’t think of puttanesca without thinking of Lemony Snicket. :)

    • Katie B of

      Jenn, that’s exactly why I made it over the weekend. My son just finished reading the Lemony Snicket series, and I just started. Naturally, when I got to the part in the first book when Violet and Klaus were making it, I realized I hadn’t had puttanesca in a long time and needed to make it, too! 

  • Mary @ Fit and Fed

    Nice, you use fresh lemon juice, that would be a nice addition to cut the saltiness. Yours is the first pasta puttanesca version that I’ve seen with tuna, can I assume that you are an anchovy hater?

    • Katie B.

      Actually, I love anchovies, Mary, but my family doesn’t. :)

  • Mary @ Fit and Fed

    I know how that is, Katie! I can rarely get an entree with mushrooms because we have too many mushroom-haters in the family!

    • Katie B.

      Oh, no, I couldn’t live without mushrooms! My son hates them, though.

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