Pasta Puttanesca

Total Time

Prep: 25 min. Cook: 15 min.


8 servings

Updated: Apr. 24, 2022
This pasta puttanesca recipe is great for a big gathering. It works well as a starter dish or as a main dish for a smaller group. One peeled, diced carrot may be used in place of the sugar for a milder, sweeter and healthier substitute.—Kathryn White, Pinehurst, North Carolina


  • 1 package (16 ounces) penne pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 3 anchovy fillets
  • 1/4 cup pitted Greek olives, chopped
  • 1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seed, crushed
  • 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 6 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil; cook and stir carrot and anchovy fillets until carrot is tender. Stir in olives, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, capers, oregano, thyme, fennel and pepper flakes; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste and sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, until thickened, 10-15 minutes.
  3. Drain pasta. Add pasta and basil to sauce mixture; toss to coat. Sprinkle with cheese.

Pasta Puttanesca Tips

What is the origin of pasta puttanesca?

Pasta puttanesca comes from Naples, Italy. The sauce is known for its olives and capers, which are plentiful in the region. It’s also known for being quick to prepare—it's a classic dish you can whip up in minutes! For more pasta ideas, read up on these 5-star pasta recipes.

Does puttanesca sauce taste fishy?

This version of puttanesca contains anchovies, so the dish will have a slight fishy taste–but the anchovies lend more saltiness than fishiness. If you don’t like them or don’t have them on hand, you can leave them out. And if you love them, here are our recipes for anchovy lovers.

What wine goes with pasta puttanesca?

Pair this pasta puttanesca recipe with your favorite southern Italian red wine blend, or ask your local wine shop to point you to a bottle of nero d’avola, negroamara, or primitivo. A zinfandel can also work well. Check out a few of our favorite food and wine pairings.

Research contributed by Maggie Knoebel, Taste of Home Culinary Assistant

Nutrition Facts

1 cup: 283 calories, 5g fat (1g saturated fat), 3mg cholesterol, 362mg sodium, 50g carbohydrate (6g sugars, 5g fiber), 10g protein.