Sauced: Puttanesca


Sauces, dips, dressings, and condiments from around the world.

Get Recipe
Puttanesca Sauce


[Photographs: Joshua Bousel ]

When named after a lady of the night, there's sure to be some saucy tales lurking about. It's for this reason that the origins of puttanesca* are steeped in folklore— though in all likelihood the dish got its start under less...unsavory circumstances.

*It translates to "whore"

First served up in mid-twentieth century Southern Italy—possibly around the Amalfi Coast—the name puttanesca is more likely a nod to its simple ingredients, being composed of locally common items like tomatoes, anchovies, olives, garlic, and capers.

The whole thing is a quick and easy affair, taking only about fifteen minutes from start to finish. The strong brininess of olives, capers, and anchovies make sure there's no lack of flavor, resulting in a pleasing salty character that stands up to the bright and acidic tomatoes without overwhelming their sweetness. Be forwarned: a little bit of this sauce goes a long way on a giant plate of pasta.

Get The Recipe!

Puttanesca Sauce »

About the author: Joshua Bousel brings you new, tasty condiment each Wednesday and a recipe for weekend grilling every Friday. He also writes about grilling and barbecue on his blog The Meatwave whenever he can be pulled away from his grill.

Serious Eats Newsletters

Keep up with our latest recipes, tips, techniques and where to eat!


Comments can take up to a minute to appear - please be patient!

Previewing your comment: