Lidia’s Puttanesca


Happy New Year! I’m feeling quite positive about 2013. I think it’s going to be a good year for all. I’ve decided to take the “glass half-full” approach. No real resolutions. Do we ever keep them? I’m just going to try to be more positive and block out the negativity. Our holidays had their ups and downs, but just spending time with family and friends, enjoying a delicious meal is what I always look forward to the most.

After too much cooking over the holidays I was trying to think of some easy recipes to make the family as school and work soon kick back into gear. Yes, the holidays are over and it’s time to get back into the old routine… but with that renewed “glass half-full” optimistic approach to things. Make life a little easier. To start, you could make this simple Puttanesca I’ve adapted from the wonderful Lidia. Super quick and perfect for a weeknight dinner.


Did you know Puttanesca translates to “whore’s style spaghetti?” I’ve also seen it referred to as “in the style of a prostitute” and “made by ladies of the evening.” I recall the history as follows…  since the “ladies” worked late nights and weren’t able to get to the markets for fresh ingredients, they created Puttanesca by using common ingredients they already had available in their pantry. They certainly were on to something. How could the combination of anchovies, olives and capers ever be bad? Brilliant! It’s one of those dishes you find on the menu at most Italian restaurants, but personally I’d never think to order it. It couldn’t be simpler to make at home, includes all the staples you probably already have, and it whips up fast for a perfect dinner.


I picked up Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen about a year ago. I think I bought it because a friend mentioned it had the best lasagna recipe. Lasagna is such a project, I still haven’t made it. But I have made Lidia’s sausage and peppers, spaghetti with mushrooms, garlic & parsley and this awesome dish of Puttanesca. I need to find time to make more from this book.


Adapted from Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen


  • 35 oz can of plum tomatoes (I use Cento brand)
  • 1 1/2 cups mixed firm green olives & kalamata olives (pitted and cut in half)
  • 1 pound thick spaghetti (or other shape of choice)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 large cloves garlic, peeled & smashed
  • 6 anchovy fillets
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup tiny capers, drained
  • Big handful chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for your pasta. Cook pasta according to package directions. Remove it about 1 minute early as it will cook for a minute in the pan with the sauce.

Meanwhile, as you wait for the water to boil, pour the canned tomatoes in a large bowl and crush them with your hands. Set aside.

Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil on medium-high heat in a large (6qt) sauté pan. You want the pan to be big enough to hold the sauce and the pasta.  Add the garlic to the olive oil and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the anchovies and break-up with the back of a wooden spoon. Add the olives to the pan and stir for 2 minutes. Pour in the bowl of canned tomatoes, sprinkle with red pepper flakes and toss in the capers. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.

Drain the pasta when ready and add it to the pan with the sauce. Toss the sauce and pasta together and remove the pan from the heat. Sprinkle the Pecorino cheese and combine again.

Serve immediately with a nice glass of Italian red wine and a hunk of crusty bread. YUM!


7 Comments to “Lidia’s Puttanesca”

  1. Wow thanks for sharing the recipe and the title! I love you space here. When you have the time, do drop by my space. I just made some snacky oat bars and would love to know what you think. Happy holidays!

  2. Thanks so much for this recipe. I just saw it on TV and wasn’t sure I remembered all the ingredients. It looks right up my alley for flavors and ease so it’s on the plan for this coming week!

  3. Hello, I saw Lydia make this on tv the other day-I wanted to make it right away!! I made it today and I really enjoyed it. It’s got a different flavor with the anchovies and olives, loved it!!!

    • I just made it again last week. It’s definitely a favorite in our house. It’s a quick recipe to make too. I’ve made pan seared fish in a little olive oil, remove from the pan, make this puttanesca sauce, put the fish back in and simmer for a few minutes. Delicious and health!

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