Bucatini alla Puttanesca

Bucatini alla Puttanesca translates to “Whore’s Pasta” – and there are a number of stories, hailing from Southern Italy, in Naples, where this dish originates. Some tales say that sex workers enticed clients by this dishes fragrant aroma – and I will tell you, this briney, complex and flavorful sauce really filled the house with its aromatics. Other stories state that this was a quick and easy meal to throw together using pantry staples of Italian homes at the end of a long night or work. Whatever the origin, I can promise you that this dish was truly delicious.

This dish has a few, strongly flavorful ingredients that I happened to have on hand. Garlic, anchovies, capers, kalamata olives and some tomato puree (I was lucky enough to still have some of last summer’s passata!) It comes together in the time it takes for the pasta to cook. Find the recipe below – buon appetito!

Bucatini alla Puttanesca

  • Servings: 4-6 people
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 lb bucatini or spaghetti
  • 14 oz crushed tomatoes or passata
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 2 filets anchovies
  • 3/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped parsley


  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. When boiling, salt well and add pasta.
  2. As the pasta cooks, heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add red pepper flakes, garlic and anchovies. Cook until garlic is fragrant and anchovies dissolve.
  3. Add capers and olives, toss to toast in the oil. Add tomatoes and salt to taste (not too much! The ingredients are already salt heavy). Bring to a simmer.
  4. When the pasta is 3/4 of the way cooked, transfer it to the sauce, along with 1/2 cup pasta water. Let the pasta cook to your liking on a low heat.
  5. Toss half the parsley into the dish, and combine well. Plate, and garnish with remaining parsley.

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