Salty, pungent puttanesca is up there with carbonara as one of my all time favourite pasta sauces. Pasta puttanesca literally means “whore’s style pasta” and it’s packed with strong, uncompromising flavours. Made with tomatoes, garlic, black olives, anchovies and capers, it’s salty and moreish. It’s a good dish to have in your repertoire because it’s made almost entirely with store cupboard ingredients and can be rustled up with just a moment’s notice. As there are so many big and bold flavours going on here, I have added a good handful of parsley and basil to bring some freshness to the dish and a vital splash of green.

Pasta Puttanesca Recipe


  • 200 g dried tagliatelle
  • 3 tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • 4 salted anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 1 x 400g tins peeled plum tomatoes
  • 1 pinch chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp pitted black olives
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • 1 handful basil leaves


  1. Finely chop or slice the garlic. Place a wide, heavy-based pan over a medium-high heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and a sprinkle of freshly cracked black pepper and the chilli flakes. Stir and fry for 20 seconds, then add the anchovies. Stir and fry for a further 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes along with a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer and cook gently for 10 minutes.

  2. Cook your pasta according to the packet instructions and when it's a few minutes away from being ready, finish the sauce: roughly chop the olives and capers and add to the tomato sauce. Finely chop the parsley and roughly chop or tear the basil and add to the sauce too and stir. Taste, and add more salt or pepper if you think it needs it.

  3. Drain the pasta, ensuring you reserve some of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the sauce along with a ladleful of the cooking liquid. Mix thoroughly, and serve immedately.