Pasta Puttanesca

I love Italian food so it wasn’t a surprise when I was craving it the other day.  Mmm, carbs.  Sorry, I got distracted.     😉  I didn’t have the time to make my Marinara Sauce so I decided to try a quicker recipe.  In fact, I tried a completely different kind of sauce.  Little did I know that I’d be taking a trip down memory lane when I decided to make this pasta dish.  I’ll explain.

The pasta is coated with an Italian puttanesca sauce, a light tomato based sauce full of fresh tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, olives, and capers.

03Pasta Puttanesca

Pasta Puttanesca Recipe
(About 6 servings)


  • 1 pound of pasta (I used mezze penne)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, lightly smashed and peeled
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes with basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup pitted black olives
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • fresh basil leaves, for garnish


  1. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Drain and set it aside.
  2. In a medium skillet, on Medium heat, heat the oil and cook the garlic until it’s lightly browned.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes, pepper, and salt and cook it for about 10 minutes to thicken up.
  4. Reduce the heat to Simmer/Low and stir in the olives, capers, chopped grape tomatoes, and red pepper flakes.  Continue to it cook for a few minutes.
  5. Toss the pasta in the sauce and garnish with fresh basil. (* See note below)

Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

* Note: The sauce will soak into the pasta overnight.  If you don’t think you’ll eat all of the pasta then I recommend you store the sauce in a separate jar in the refrigerator and wait to add it to the pasta until you are ready to eat it.


My sister and I took an eleven day tour of Italy back in 2009 and we had a fabulous time.  If I close my eyes I feel like I’m sitting in a piazza surrounded by fun shops and cafes that fill the streets with wonderful aromas of Italian cuisine.

01Pasta Puttanesca

Many days we’d grab a quick pizza and gelato for lunch.  We had one rule on our trip and that was to have gelato every single day.     🙂  (We stuck to that rule and Italy made it very easy to stick to!)

Most of our dinners began with a lovely pasta appetizer, similar to this pasta puttanesca dish.  This sauce is light and fresh, perfect as a starter meal or as an entree.  Also, it’s tangy with a little bit of heat to it.

06Pasta Puttanesca

I love the simplicity of this sauce.  A delicious sauce doesn’t need a lot of ingredients or a lot of time to make.  I made this meal in less than 30 minutes!  Some people add anchovies to their puttanesca sauce, but capers are a common substitute.  They add great flavor to this pasta dish.

02Pasta Puttanesca

How about some Italian music in the background of my kitchen?  Maybe some good old Frank Sinatra?  Most of the restaurants that my sister and I visited in Italy had live entertainment.  In fact it was common that the entertainers were selling their music CDs at the end of the night.

04Pasta Puttanesca

Isn’t it funny how food can spark a memory?  All this reminiscing makes me want to return to beautiful Italy.



3 Hats


Adapted from: The NY Times


Here are some other delicious Italian meals.

Italian Meat Sauce

07Italian Meat Sauce

Pasta With Tomato Cream Sauce

08Pasta With Tomato Cream Sauce

Eggplant Quinoa Parmesan

04Eggplant Quinoa Parmesian


  1. A meal in under 30 minutes? You bet! Love this.

    I bet your trip to Italy was amazing. And I love the way you think…gelato every day!

    1. Tina says:

      I feel like I live for these quick meals! 😉

  2. My father-in-law absolutely loves this dish. I like the use of the penne. maybe I will make this for him.

    1. Tina says:

      Your father in law has good taste. 🙂

  3. Gahhh! It’s my dream to go visit Italy. I watch Under the Tuscan Sun all the time and think about how magical it would be to go there. That’s great you got to go with your sister. Until I go, great pasta dishes like this will have to do : )

    1. Tina says:

      I loved that movie! It’s one of my favorite. 🙂

  4. I love when food brings back memories! Italy is the best!! This looks like such a delicious pasta, and perfect for a quick weeknight meal!

    1. Tina says:

      Thanks so much Cate!

  5. Such a good idea for a quick lunch!

    1. Tina says:

      Thanks! 🙂

  6. This sounds absolutely fab! I’m actually not a huge gelato person (or ice cream for that matter) but in Italy my body was literally craving it. What I would do to go back!!!! A taste of Italy in my own home is exactly what I need 🙂

    1. Tina says:

      Oh my goodness, I’d eat your share of ice cream! 😉 Love the stuff. The gelato was so good in Italy that I eat it here because it’s just not the same.

  7. My daughter will love this dish. I must make it for her. We haven’t been to Italy but it’s definitely on the list for a MUST visit.

    1. Tina says:

      I hope you get to Italy one day!

  8. Love how quick and simple this recipe is! I could eat pasta every night of the week and be happy 🙂

    1. Tina says:

      You and me both! I love my carbs. 🙂

  9. cakewhiz says:

    I am a big fan of pasta sauces with a little heat to it and this recipe looks like it’s gonna be perfect for me. I wish I can visit Italy some day too…can’t wait to try out all the food there 😀

    1. Tina says:

      I hope you love this pasta dish as much as I do. 🙂

  10. I love reminiscing about my trips back to Italy or as my husband call it the food capital of the world. Great little pasta dish and olives and capers give it a new level of flavor. Take care, BAM

    1. Tina says:

      “Food capital of the world”…that’s awesome! I totally agree. 🙂

  11. This looks like a delicious weeknight meal, Tina! Oh, how I miss Italy…our rule when we went on our honeymoon a few years ago was gelato every day and a bottle of house wine for dinner every night. (Some places even had house sparkling wine…served in huge carafes. Amazing!) Thanks for the memories and the delicious looking recipe. 🙂

    1. Tina says:

      So sweet! I loved that you shared your memories. 🙂

  12. I have not had puttanesca in a long time, and I absolutely love it! Thank you for reminding me of one of my favorites! I need to make this soon – seeing it makes me realize how much I miss it!

    1. Tina says:

      It such a great classic! 🙂

  13. You totally have me craving a big bowl of pasta right now! And unfortunately, I’m looking down at my lunch here and it’s just pb&j on rice cakes… no fair! haha

    1. Tina says:

      Oh, no! If it makes you feel any better, my lunches never look as good as the food I see online. 😉

  14. Oh this pasta looks so dreamy! I love that the sauce is made from scratch! I’ve never tried puttanesca!

    1. Tina says:

      Thanks Jessica! 🙂

  15. Now I want to go to Italy too. And definietly follow your gelatto rule, duh.
    This pasta dish looks scrumptious Tina!

    1. Tina says:

      Gelatto, pasta, and pizza! The Italians sure know how to cook. 🙂

  16. Kelly says:

    What a great pasta dish – love that it comes together so quickly. Your trip to Italy with your sister sounds fantastic Tina and yay for gelato everyday 🙂

    1. Tina says:

      Thanks so much Kelly!

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