Super Easy Inauthentic Pasta Puttanesca

By Mieke

When I first moved to London I studied with German former male model who vastly improved my appreciation of pasta by cooking me pasta with two of the most basic tomato based pasta sauces.

The first was just onions, garlic and tinned tomatoes. Finished with some basil and mozzarella.

Prostitutes pasta

The second was this here pasta puttanesca, which stirs people into fits and giggles because its name literally translates to ‘prostitutes pasta’. But let’s be fair. All the hard work sex workers do and the shit they get for it from the rest of us means they’ve got to eat good.

So live your best life and make this pasta. I promise the anchovies in this aren’t scary, think of them as super salt. No matter how many I’ve put in, my puttanesca never tastes overly fishy. Trust me, I’ve tried.

Once your belly is full, please donate to the Dutch Emergency Fund to help Dutch sex workers cover lost income from the Corona-crisis.

Het logo van het Dutch Emergency Fund met een rode paraplu en wolk en de naam van het fonds.

How do I eat pasta puttanesca?

Pasta puttanesca is a main and doesn’t need anything else. A nice helping of red wine and as much grated Parmesan and freshly ground pepper as your plate can carry will do nicely however.

Super Easy Pasta Puttanesca Recipe

Dorothy Porker
Pasta puttanesca is a pungent umami laden affair that should be a go-to meal for anybody that loves quick and easy meals made from store cupboard items (and anchovies).
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Dinner, Main course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 2


  • Big pot for cooking pasta
  • Heavy based pot to make the sauce
  • Sieve
  • Grater


  • salt
  • 5 oz - 140 gr pasta of choice, I'm a linguine girl myself
  • 1 T - 15 ml olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 3 medium shallots finely chopped
  • 14 oz - 400 gr tomatoes one tin - I prefer peeled plum tomatoes myself
  • 1 T - 20 gr tomato puree
  • 1/2 T - 7 ml Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 t - 5 gr sugar
  • 2 T - 40 gr capers less or more to taste, roughly chopped olives also work
  • 1/2 c - 60 gr Parmesan grated
  • 1 pinch salt more or less to taste
  • black pepper as much as you like, freshly ground is best
  • 7 oz - 213 gr tinned salmon or tuna 1 tin drained, optional - please look for ASC- or MSC-certification


  • Bring some heavily salted water to the boil in a large pot.
  • Heat 1 T - 15 ml of olive oil in a heavy based pot and fry off the finely chopped 4 cloves of garlic and 3 shallots until they become translucent. Avoid burning by stirring constantly and lowering the heat if necessary.
  • Once the onions and garlic have started to become translucent, add 6 finely chopped anchovy filets and stir until they begin to break down.
  • Dump in your 14 oz - 400 gr tin of tomatoes and 1 T - 20 gr tomato paste and let sit at a soft bubble for until reduced by about half. This should take 15-30 minutes or so.
  • Now is the time to dump 5 oz - 140 gr of pasta into the salted boiling water and cook it according to the instructions on the packet. I like to cook the pasta slightly under and reduce the cooking time by 1 minute to ensure a little bit of bite. Be sure to reduce the heat a little so it doesn't boil over.
  • After the sauce has been reduced down, add 1/2 T - 7 ml of balsamic vinegar and 1 t - 5 gr of sugar, stir and reduce down further, for a minute or 2.
  • Taste and season with salt and pepper. Because of the salt contents from the anchovies I generally find this doesn't need a lot of salt, if any.
  • Stir in 2 T - 40 gr of capers and drained 7 oz - 213 gr tin of tuna (if using).
  • Drain the pasta, mix with the sauce and serve with a good helping of freshly grated Parmesan and black pepper.


This sauce keeps for about 3 months in the freezer, double-up the recipe if you have the time and store some in the freezer so you always have a quick meal at the ready.
Keyword anchovies, easy pasta, Italian food, pasta

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