Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca requires a spicy sauce and there are many interpretations for how to make it. One essential ingredient is hot red pepper flakes or paste that gives this sauce a kick.


Serves 4


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper paste or 1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
  • 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped green olives (10-12) plus a few whole for garnish
  • 1/3 cup pitted black olives in oil, cut in half (8-10) (plus a few whole for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon capers in brine, drained
  • 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes or 2 cups canned plum tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup red wine (We used Chianti Classico.)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 Juice and zest oflarge lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound whole wheat spaghetti or chickpea pasta
  • Grated Pecorino Romano cheese for sprinkling


  1. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and cook the garlic until it begins to soften. Add the pepper flakes or pepper paste and cook 1 minute. Stir in the anchovy and tomato paste and cook a couple of minutes. Stir in the green and black olives, capers and tomatoes and cook a couple of minutes until the tomatoes start to shrivel. Raise the heat to high and add the wine, allowing it to reduce for a couple of minutes. Stir in the parsley, lemon juice and zest. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm while the spaghetti cooks.
  2. Cook the spaghetti in 4 quarts of boiling, salted water (1 tablespoon salt) until the spaghetti is al dente, meaning that when a strand is broken in half, no raw flour is visible. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Add the reserved water to the sauce and stir over low heat to blend. Add the spaghetti and toss well with the sauce.
  3. Serve in bowls with an olive or two and Pecorino Romano cheese sprinkled over each serving.

This recipe was featured on Season 28 - Episode 2805.

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I cant wait to. Try this recipe


I cant wait to. Try this recipe

Patricia Shenk

I’m watching Mary Ann cook this right now & it looks Soooo good!! I’ve been wanting a sauce like this!!

John Allen

Yup, this looks amazingly tasty. Can’t wait until I will be able to go out to an actual Italian restaurant and order some live, in person, and with some fellow diners. Sadly, when that day does eventually come, we might all still be wearing masks!


Cooking now! Ingredients were easy to get from Trader Joes. It was strong at first (wine) but got mellow as it simmered. Truly thick from the start and it turned out wonderfully!


Way too much lemon juice. I’ve never seen a puttanesca recipe with lemon but I followed the instructions. The lemon taste was overpowering. Very disappointing.


Really delicious! I heeded Chuck’s admonition about the lemon, and used only a few swipes of zest and perhaps a tablespoon of juice, and the flavors were very well balanced. I did make two changes, one small and one large; i used 1) jarred salted anchovy fillets in lieu of paste (generally better quality & flavor than paste), and 2), the big one – 2/3 C of Pinot Grigio instead of red wine (I am not a red wine drinker). The sourness of the PG and the capers balanced the sweetness of my cherry tomatoes, which came off the plants on my balcony and straight into the sauce, after a quick rinse and halving. Great to see a recipe using cherry tomatoes as a cooked ingredient. I used a minced ripe Bulgarian Carrot chile and parsley from the garden, too – this dish was summer in a bowl!

JB Wilson

While watching Season 28, Episode 3 (or 5) for Spaghetti alla Puttanesca, I saw your “cherry” tomatoes. They were huge as compared to the cherry tomatoes that we grow here in Oregon. Can you tell me what variety of tomatoes they were. They looked to be twice the size of any standard cherry tomato I’ve ever seen. Thank you! Love your shows and recipes.


This is a wonderful sauce, Maryann. We loved it. Quick, easy, and flavorful. Thank you for sharing your knowlege and expertise with us!

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