Pasta Puttanesca is a budget-friendly, quick meal that comes together in 15 minutes for busy weeknights. I’ve been making this pasta sauce for years because it can be made with pantry items that I usually stock. My college age sons have learned how to make this simple recipe because it’s inexpensive and easy.
I first posted about Pasta Puttanesca six years ago after Hurricane Irene. My oldest son had just gone off to his first year in college. I remember it was a huge adjustment for our family, especially the crazy amount of driving I did, shuttling my three other boys around. My oldest son had been a big help driving his siblings around, which had made it possible for me to spend more time making dinner each night.
However, once I became the only chauffeur again, getting dinner on the table every night became more of a challenge. There were days when I would start driving the boys around at 2PM and wouldn’t get settled back home until nearly 10PM (those 9PM squash lessons were a killer!). So, quick and easy dinners like pasta puttanesca became staples for those busy nights.
Interestingly, our meals changed quite a bit after my oldest son went off to college. He was more of a meat and potatoes eater. The three other boys at home were happy to have a meatless (or near meatless) meal several times a week. They also had broader tastes and were more adventurous (they enjoyed Indian, Thai, Columbian, and Jamaican). In fact, my youngest preferred beans and rice to meat.
I attribute this disparity in eating preferences to the fact that I was working full time when my oldest was born. He was raised primarily on chicken nuggets and fish sticks (yikes, I know, processed foods!). Although our sitter was phenomenal with kids, she did not know how to cook, but she was great with the microwave and toaster oven. After the twins were born, I cut my work schedule back, and hired a part-time sitter who happened to be a good cook and more health conscious. When I had my fourth son, I finally decided to stay home, and took over all the cooking.
If you’re new to pasta puttanesca, I encourage you to give this easy pasta recipe a try. Puttanesca is a spicy tomato based sauce, with a punch of flavors from kalamata olives and capers. Anchovies add depth of flavor, and fresh basil freshens up this dish.
I’ve been making Pasta Puttanesca for years based on a recipe I tried from The Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins, one of the very first cookbooks I owned. I was working as a summer intern in a laboratory (back in the days when I was pre-med), and the scientist I worked for happened to be a foodie. I still have the note he inserted in the book when he gave it to me…”Jeanette, wouldn’t want you malnourished at school….” Needless to say, I went through this cookbook page by page. Over the years, I have probably made more recipes from this single cookbook than from any other in my collection of cookbooks.
- 1 pound dried pasta
- 56 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives (pitted, chopped)
- 1/4 cup capers (rinsed and drained)
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 8 anchovy fillets (chopped)
- 1/4 cup basil leaves (chiffonade)