Tara Cox Pasta Puttanesca

Pasta That Says “Olive You”

“Pasta Puttanesca”—A quick and easy sauce with a depth of flavor that makes it taste like it’s been simmering all day. The name translates to “whore’s sauce” and some say it was made in the brothels to entice customers. Another theory claims cheating wives favored this sauce since it was so quick to put together, they could both enjoy an afternoon delight and have enough time to make a dish for their husbands that tasted like it took hours to prepare.

Tara Cox Pasta Puttanesca

Pasta Puttanesca

4 to 6 servings


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped  (use more or less depending on personal preferences—more is always better!)
  • 6 anchovy fillets
  • Dried red chile pepper or red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup chopped kalamata and good green olives (more or less in even parts)
  • 1/2 teaspoons oregano
  • 28 oz can whole tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • Salt and pepper
  • Grated cheese (parmesan or pecorino romano)
  • 1 box Spaghetti, Bucatini, Percatelli or Linguine (or, whatever you like!)


Bring a pot of water to a boil while preparing the sauce.  Salt the boiling water, add the pasta, and cook until just shy of al dente according to the package directions.

Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat.

Add garlic, anchovies, and red pepper flakes. Sautee until garlic becomes fragrant and begins to turn golden.

Add olives and oregano, saute for about 5 minutes.

Break up the canned tomatoes with your hands as you add to the pan; the pieces should be chunky and rustic.  Simmer for about 5-10 minutes more over medium heat.

Add parsley, capers, and a little bit of pepper. You won’t need added salt as the anchovies, olives, and cheese add plenty of brininess.

With tongs (for strands) or a slotted spoon (for other shapes) transfer the pasta to the sauce.  Stop adding pasta when you’re at the desired sauce to macaroni ratio (Depending on the type of pasta, you’ll use most if not  all of it.)

Give a good stir to combine and let the pasta finish cooking in the sauce.

Plate in a pasta bowl, top with grated cheese, and finish with a combination of some chopped fresh parsley and a little bit of minced raw garlic.

Mangia bene! 

About the contributor

Tara CoxTara Cox is the Executive Managing Editor at Rachael Ray In Season Magazine and author of the “Highbrow/Brilliant”  book (according to New York magazine’s “Approval Matrix.”) Airstream: The Silver RV.  Find her on Instagram at @misscox.

Photo credits

All photos by Tara Cox.

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