Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Puttanesca Sauce


Puttanesca sauce, most often employed for pasta, originated in Naples. It is made from tomatoes, black olives, capers, anchovies, onions, garlic, and herbs, usually oregano and parsley but sometimes also basil. It is an easy sauce, briefly cooked, and is very fragrant and spicy. Puttanesca translates as "in the style of the whore." The name derives from the Italian word puttana which means whore. Puttana in turn arises from the Latin word putida which means stinking.

There are multiple explanations. The first interpretation is that the intense aroma, (harking back to the "stinking" Latin definition), would lure men from the street into the local house of ill repute. Thus, the Nepalese harlots were characterized as the sirens of the culinary world. Three additional accounts all hinge on the fact that Puttanesca sauce is easy and quick to make. The first is that the prostitutes made it for themselves to keep the interruption of their business to a minimum. The second is that they made it for the men awaiting their turn at the brothel. And the final version is that it was a favorite of married women who wished to limit their time in the kitchen so that they may visit their paramour

Whatever is the origin, Puttanesca is a tasty and vibrant sauce. I like it best with pasta , especially during Lent weeks, where we try cut on eating protein and substitute instead on eating healthy vegetables and seafood diet.

This sauce is also perfect on roasted chicken. In Lebanon when I got this recipe from a friend I tried to experiment with more flavours, and I was into spicy and aromatic flavours and one day I added one tbsp of curry powder to the sauce, and suddenly you are on the other side of the world. Whatever is your taste…? Use your imagination and experiment adding and decreasing the ingredients to your taste.

Here is the original recipe served with linguine pasta.



  • 1 Onion, chopped (I used green onion)
  • 3 Garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • 2 Anchovy fillets, finely sliced (optional)
  • 3 cup Tomato sauce - (used fresh sliced tomato)
  • 2 tablespoons Capers, drained and chopped
  • 1/3 cup Oil-packed black olives, drained, pitted and halved
  • 2 tablespoons Fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Fresh parsley, chopped (leave some for decoration)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, soften the onion and garlic in the oil. Add the anchovies and stir for 1 minute. Add the tomato sauce. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients. Toss with cooked pasta. Serve immediately.

Note:You can add tomato sauce instead, the cooking time will be around 5 minutes instead.

** Try to keep around an couple inches of parsley stem , its full of nutritious and vitamins.


Saveurs et Gourmandises said...

Un plat de pâtes avec une sauce comme je les aime.
A bientôt.

A Canadian Foodie said...

Those anchovies look huge! This looks so delicious! Thank you for such a detailed and delectable recipe! YUM.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Very interesting Arlette! :) I knew that was what it meant but I had no idea why so this was a really interesting read. And I love this sauce too! :D

Saveurs et Gourmandises said...

merci beaucoup :
See soon.

Daisy Blue said...

I'm cooking pasta today but with Alfredo sauce :)

sangeeta said...

Thanks Arlette...
it means a lot to me when you say such things from your heart..

Azure Islands Designs said...

Great sauce Arlette...looks easy, even I could give it a try... :0)

I enjoy the history behind the food/words...I love to learn!

Mamatkamal said...

Looks so easy to make and delicious.

Angie's Recipes said...

Looks very yummy and it's not to difficult to prepare.

://: Heni ://: said...

my family loves this sauce, not even taste the anchovy in it =)

Anonymous said...

I have made this sauce exactly as you wrote it out. It is outstanding in the complexity of its tastes, really satisfying with a good linguine or spaghetti. I added fresh heirloom tomatoes to it, getting an extra chunky and delicious undertone going. So very fabulous - thanks for your great blog!!!