‘Puttanesca’ is a simple, quick, affordable pasta sauce that originated in Naples. The story is that the women would make this pasta in the brothels, wafting the beautiful aromas into the streets to entice men into their, er, places of business. This story makes perfect sense: the capers and garlic sautéing with peppers and basil? If I walked past a brothel that smelled as gorgeous as my house when I was making this sauce, I might have to wander inside to check it out too…

Pasta Puttanesca Tomatoes

This one’s a little different, though, because I’m using heirloom cherry tomatoes, which I raved about last week in my Kicked Up Quinoa recipe. These smaller, more fruity tomatoes add a burst of freshness and intensity that make this a totally unique pasta sauce that’s still (hopefully) just as worthy of the brothels. 🙂

Pasta Puttanesca

Makes 4 servings


  • 16 oz whole wheat spaghetti
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 1 red chili
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 2 handfuls fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper

Puttanesca Frying

Step One

Begin boiling a pot of water. Then slice the garlic and chili, add them to a large hot skillet with a little splash of olive oil. Tear up 2 handfuls of basil and add this to the pan with about 1/4 cup of capers. Let this sauté for a while.

Step Two

While you’re enjoying the beautiful aromas of the sautéing ingredients from step one, take your time slicing the cherry tomatoes in half and throw them in the pan. Toss everything together and let it continue cooking. About this time, add the spaghetti to the pot of boiling water.

Puttanesca Sauce

Step Three

When the spaghetti is al dente and the tomatoes are cooking beautifully, put this all together. Don’t drain the pasta – simply use a pasta spoon or tongs to transfer the wet pasta into the pan with the tomato sauce. This carries over some of the pasta water that’s necessary to complete the sauce. On high heat, toss everything together in the skillet for one final minute to bring all the flavors together.

Transfer to serving bowls, ensuring you get even amounts of ingredients in each, and drizzle any remaining liquid from the pan over each dish.

Buon Appetito!

Puttanesca in Pan

Puttanesca Fork