Pasta Puttanesca
Sugo alla puttanesca
Italian Recipe

“Sugo alla puttanesca” literally translates to “whore’s sauce.” The bold, spicy dish was originally conjured up by the prostitutes of Naples, Italy. As word of this amazing sauce spread beyond its native region, puttanesca became wildly popular in the 1960’s. Today, cooks like me depend on its lusty goodness when throwing together a quick meal of pasta, garlic bread and red wine.


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4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, minced fine
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
1 28.5-ounce can chunky tomatoes*
1/2 cup red wine**
6 anchovy fillets, roughly mashed
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 cups sliced black olives
2 tablespoon capers***
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese , divided
1 pound pasta shells, cooked until just barely al dente
~ optional chopped Italian parsley, for garnish
*Use canned tomatoes from Modena, Italy or Pomi brand tomatoes found in fine grocery stores—their flavor is superb!**Always use drinking quality wine, not cooking wine.***Capers are the sun-dried and brined buds of a bush indigenous to the Mediterranean area. Find them at supermarkets and fine grocery stores. Be sure to rinse capers before adding them to your recipes. 

1. Set a large skillet over medium-high heat, pour in the olive oil, and bring it to just below smoking.

2. Add the onions, stir, lower the heat to medium and cook until softened, three or four minutes.

3. Add the garlic and cook briefly. Do not let the garlic burn.

4. Pour in the tomatoes and wine and stir well.

5. Add the anchovy fillets, basil and oregano. Lower the heat to medium-low, partially cover the skillet with a lid and let the sauce simmer for 20 minutes.

6. Stir in the olives, capers, chili flakes, salt, pepper and  one and one-half cups of the cheese.

7. Thin the sauce with some hot pasta cooking water if required.

8. Add the pasta to the sauce, toss and finish cooking for several minutes.

9. Place the pasta on a platter or plate and sprinkle the remaining cheese and parsley over the top.


Preparation Time: 
25–30 minutes.
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