Pasta Puttanesca

Pasta Puttanesca

When life gives you anchovies, make puttanesca.

At least that’s what I suggest for the salty little fishies, a relatively foreign ingredient to me.

When my last freelance assignment called for anchovies, I admit I was skeptical. The smell alone from opening the can made me nervous about what they’d do to the end result in my frying pan. Just to get them into the pan caused a little anxiety. Would their signature aroma get a little too cozy with my cutting board? Luckily it didn’t.

The first recipe I used them in, a smoky potato and leek salad dressed with Bagna Cauda, awakened me to the fact that cooking anchovies will help cut their pungency. Still, a little does go a long way, but sautéed in olive oil, these fishy fishies become much more flavor-lending than fishy-tasting. I was quite pleased with the results of the Banga Cauda. Anchovy fear, I have no more.

After that first cooking venture, I was left with half of a can’s worth. Without doing prior research, the only dishes that came to mind utilizing anchovies were pizza and puttanesca. I went with the latter.

I admit, I did once make an ode against using this ingredient in tomato sauce. But that was from my anchovy-fearing days. Which as I just said, I’ve parted ways with. After my awakening, I was finally ready to tackle puttanesca in its original form, anchovies and all.

Again, quite pleased with the results, I’m sharing my recipe with you here. It’s simple to make and much quicker than your standard simmer-all-day marinara sauce. When you’re looking for a weeknight dinner, I suggest you try tackling your fear of anchovies too. Or just wait until life throws them your way. Then, when life gives you anchovies, make puttanesca.

If you do already happen to be an anchovy warrior, give me a shout out. I’d love to hear your recommendations of how to next utilize the ingredient’s flavor.

Pasta Puttanesca

Pasta Puttanesca

Yield: Serves 3-4


  • -2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • -1/4 cup sweet onion, diced
  • -6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • -6-8 anchovies packed in oil, chopped
  • -1 (15oz.) can fire roasted tomatoes
  • -2 Tbsp. water
  • -1 1/2 Tbsp. capers
  • -1/4 tsp. red chili pepper flakes
  • -Pinch of dried oregano
  • -1 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
  • -Salt and pepper, to taste
  • -3/4 lb. whole wheat spaghettini


  1. Cook pasta 5-6 minutes in boiling water, until al dente, and then drain.
  2. Meanwhile, in large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium-heat. Toss in onions and sauté for 2 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for a minute. Stir in anchovies, and cook until both are browned, about another 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes, capers, chili pepper flakes, oregano, water and a pinch of salt and pepper, and bring to a low simmer. Let simmer for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add parsley, and cook for another 2 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat. Once pasta is cooked, top pasta with sauce. Serve.

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    January 8, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    Love this and can’t wait to give it a try this weekend! Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply
    Warm Smoked Russet Potato Salad with Bagna Cauda Dressing + GIVEAWAY « Food-Fitness-FreshAir
    January 28, 2013 at 6:05 am

    […] Pick up the issue and whip it up for breakfast alongside scrambled eggs or tofu. As I relayed in an earlier post, this is want converted me into an anchovy believer, so if you’re a newcomer or a little wary […]

  • Leave a Reply