Puttanesca – It’s What They’re Biting On

So apparently Puttanesca literally translates into “whore’s spaghetti”. And rumor has it, this is the sauce that said whores would make while hard working Italian men were clocking out, and the aromas would lure the unsuspecting/hungry men in for a good meal and some adult time. I don’t know how true that is, and I can’t attest to it’s man-catching abilities. But I can say this – it’s a little salty, a bit briny, a hint of heat and tons of flavor. The Man loves it and it also goes together in under 30 minutes. So here it is, the dish that (allegedly) men are biting on.


The sauce starts with a tin of anchovies. Hold on, don’t run off….I know – anchovies are a bad pizza topping, and that’s about the extent of it. But anchovies are a great salty addition, and you don’t get any yicky canned fish flavor. Trust me, I am extremely sensitive (read, grossed out) to anything fishy – and there is nothing fishy about this sauce. Start by heating olive oil in a sauce pan, and breaking the anchovies up with your spoon. Tiny shreds are ideal – this will help get the salty flavor distributed through the sauce, without any big fishy bites. Then you will add in the red pepper flakes, garlic, cherry tomatoes, olives and capers. Let everything get a little time in the oil before adding the canned tomatoes.

Puttanesca Sauce2

After all of the elements of your sauce go into the pot, let it simmer while you boil the pasta. I like angel hair, but I thing spaghetti is more traditional. Use what you like (or what you have on hand). Once the pasta is cooked add it, along with fresh arugula to the sauce. Arugula isn’t traditional at all. But it was in my fridge, and the fresh peppery taste seemed a good accompaniment to the flavors I already had going.


Toss the pasta and arugula in the sauce, and let everything cook through for about 5 minutes. When it’s time to serve, give it a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and some fresh cracked pepper. That’s it!

Puttanesca with Arugula

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2 Oz. flat anchovies, drained (one small tin)
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 C. kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 2 T. capers
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes
  • 2 C. arugula
  • 1 Lb. angel hair pasta

In a sauce pan, heat olive oil and anchovies. With a wooden spoon or fork, break anchovies into tiny pieces, almost to a paste. Add in garlic and pepper flakes. Allow to cook for a few minutes, or until garlic is fragrant. Add cherry tomatoes, olives and capers and cook another 5 minutes. Pour in diced tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer while preparing pasta.

Cook angel hair pasta according to package. Drain and add to Puttanesca sauce along with arugula. Toss pasta and arugula in sauce, and allow to cook on low for 5 minutes. Serve with parmesan cheese and black pepper.


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