Simple yet Sexy Puttanesca

Wanna cook like this? Let’s do it together in September. Join me for Busy Women Mealtime Makeover. Only 15 spots so get yours now!

Puttanesca. There is just something sexy about this word.

A cool breeze coming in my kitchen window. My music playing in the background. Madilyn doing twirls in the kitchen as I cooked. The sun shining bright. Picking fresh basil from my garden. Munching on olives.

I felt like I was back in Italy while I prepared this classic Italian dish.

When I was a senior in college I was blessed to take a trip to Italy to study art. Little did my parents know at the time but I studied food and wine much more than art. I was there for an entire month. Such an incredible experience. My husband Brian went as well. We ate. We drank. We visited art museums and old churches. I took pictures. I put together a journal.

My photo journal of my trip to Italy back in college.

Napoli or better known as Naples.

There is just something sexy about Italy and Italian food. Jersey Shore fans, I am not talking about that kind of sexy. (You know you watch it! - I admit Brian and I DVR it.) I am talking about that live in the moment, enjoying real food, slowing down, walking outside barefoot, drinking local wine, biting into a piece of fruit still warm because it was just picked off the tree... that's what I call sexy.I felt this sexiness when I was preparing Puttanesca. Puttanesca sauce, most often put over pasta, originated in Naples, Italy. It is made from tomatoes, black olives, capers, anchovies, onions, garlic, and herbs, usually oregano and parsley but sometimes basil. It is an easy sauce, briefly cooked, and is very fragrant and spicy. In Italian, puttanesca translates as “in the style of the whore.” Yikes! The name derives from the Italian word puttana which means whore. Puttana in turn arises from the Latin word putida which means stinking. Double yikes!

Our group having dinner with our Italian tour guide Mario. I wonder how Mario is doing.

Now I’ll bet your wondering how this dish became connected to such a scandal. The first interpretation is that the intense aroma would lure men from the street into the local house.

Brian and I years ago in Florence.

Another interpretation is that Puttanesca sauce is easy and quick to make. Prostitutes in Naples made it for themselves to keep the interruption of their "business" to a minimum. Others say that these prostitutes made it for the men awaiting their turn at the brothel.

Piece of art I studied in Italy. I think I even wrote my final paper about her.


So interesting, right? I love learning about the history of food. Current day, Puttanesca is a tasty and vibrant sauce that is easy to make and so delicious. Try it for yourself. Be a whore. Just kidding.

Sexy Pasta Puttanesca


1 lb pasta, I used thin spaghetti (slightly undercooked as you will be adding it in the sauce)

5 garlic cloves, chopped

12 anchovies (1 container of anchovy fillets)

1/2-1 tsp red pepper flakes (depending how hot you like it!)

1 28 oz can organic whole tomatoes in their juice or a big bunch of cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup kalamatas, chopped

2 TB drained capers

1 tsp honey

3/4 cup of chopped fresh basil


Saute garlic, anchovy, and pepper flakes in oil for about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, olives, capers, and honey and let cook until the tomatoes are cooked down. Add basil and turn off the heat. Add pasta and toss to coat. Garnish with some whole olives, more fresh basil and yummy parmesan cheese.

Serve with a green salad and wine, of course.

Recipe adapted from my girl Hannah over at Hannah's Harvest

Wanna cook like this? Let’s do it together in September. Join me for Busy Women Mealtime Makeover. Only 15 spots so get yours now!

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    • says

      Alice, I actually prefer brown rice pasta. You can find it at Whole Foods, Trader Joes and even Giant Eagle! Let me know what you think of the dish. 🙂

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