Pasta Puttanesca

Updated May 19, 2016
This image courtesy of Mark T. Shapiro

Easy and filling, this is the perfect recipe when everyone’s hungry and you don’t have a lot of time to cook an elaborate meal. Add capers and accompany with a bowl of vegan Parmesan cheese alternative to serve company.

Use canned tomatoes with or without seasoning, as you prefer.

Many varieties of black olives work well in this sauce. Try oil-cured, Moroccan or kalamata olives for best results.

Serves4 to 6 Servings



OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe CourseMain Course

Dietary ConsiderationEgg-free, Kosher, Lactose-free, Low Cholesterol, Peanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegan, Vegetarian


Taste and TextureGarlicky, Herby, Savory, Spiced

Type of DishPasta


  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil 
  • 2 onions, coarsely chopped 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tbsp/15 ml) 
  • 1 can (28 oz/796 ml) diced tomatoes, with juices (see Notes) 
  • 3 tbsp (45 ml) tomato paste 
  • 2 tbsp (25 ml) dry red wine 
  • 1 cup (250 ml) pitted oil-cured black olives, halved (see Notes) 
  • ¼ cup (50 ml) chopped drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes 
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) dried basil leaves 
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) dried oregano leaves 
  • ½ tsp (2 ml) hot pepper flakes, or to taste 
  • ½ to 1 tsp (2 to 5 ml) granulated natural cane sugar 
  • 8 oz (250 g) penne or other short pasta 


In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until onion is softened. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste and red wine and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low and stir in olives, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, oregano and hot pepper flakes. Taste and add sugar, a little at a time, as necessary, to smooth any bitterness. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until thickened.

Meanwhile, in large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta for 8 minutes or until tender to the bite, or according to package instructions. Drain. Serve sauce over hot pasta.


For a heartier meal, slice 2 Italian-style soy sausages and add along with the wine.

Add 2 tbsp (25 ml) drained capers along with the sun-dried tomatoes.



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Different stories abound regarding the naming of this dish. Direct translation: "Whore/Prostitute Pasta" ...SPICY due to the red chili flakes. I have not tried this recipe...but have eaten the pasta many times at many restaurants in Italy...and this recipes appears to be very good. I have made my own "garbage" version... To understand that statement... you MUST read this article about the history of this dish. After you read the can make your own from what you can find in your larder and frig. javascript:void(0) Buona fortuna e mangia bene (Good Luck and Eat Well)

Love this recipe!


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