The Story of Puttanesca

Several months ago one of my guest bloggers had a recipe for Spaghetti alla puttanesca. In the comments for the week following the post went up was some discussion about the name (“whore’s pasta”) that I found interesting. I had already made this dish but held it from posting to put some time in between the posts.

During the time it was being held, I decided to do a little research as I would have guessed that the name had been around a long time. I expected the history would have been that there was a common dish made in the slums of some Italian city that originated from inexpensive ingredients. The well-to-do in the city thumbed their noses at the dish and the people who regularly ate it. To add further derision, the “swells” called the dish “whore’s pasta”. Over time, the dish became common enough that the insult lost its edge.

In reality, the dish was likely created in the 1950’s or 60’s in a restaurant. I like my story better.

Photo Mar 02, 5 37 45 PM

A hearty dish with lots of flavor.

Photo Mar 02, 4 41 33 PM

A little sausage, pepper, onion and anchovy paste make this dish.

Photo Mar 02, 5 07 56 PM

All of the solid components.

Photo Mar 02, 5 16 21 PM

With the tomatoes.

Photo Mar 02, 5 22 21 PM

And the pasta.

Photo Mar 02, 5 36 09 PM

Life is much better with melted cheese on top!

Photo Mar 02, 5 37 37 PM

Such a delicious taste.

Italian Sausage Puttanesca

Makes: 4 servings


  • 8 ounces uncooked penne pasta
  • 8 ounces hot turkey Italian sausage
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans no salt-added whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup halved pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) finely shredded Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 400°.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain well.

Remove casings from sausage. Place sausage, onion, pepper, and garlic in a Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat; sauté 8 minutes, stirring to crumble.

Add tomatoes, olives, tomato paste, capers, and anchovy paste to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add pasta, tossing well to combine. Spoon pasta mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until cheese melts and begins to brown.

Nutritional Info:

482 calories 30 % caloriesfromfat 16 g fat 4.6 g satfat 6.9 g monofat 2.6 g polyfat 24.7 g protein 63.3 g carbohydrate 6.1 g fiber 42 mg cholesterol 4.7 mg iron 983 mg sodium 231 mg calcium


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Cheese3, Italian, Main Dish 3, Pasta, Pork2, Recipes, vegetable3

Author:The Ranting Chef

Check out the best recipes at

4 Comments on “The Story of Puttanesca”

  1. December 21, 2013 at 11:04 am #

    Me too – I like the ‘other story’ better!! This looks amazing !! Pinning it for sure (as I always do !)


  2. December 21, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

    Your story is similar to the one I had heard, too. Oh well, one of the few cases where real history is less interesting than made up history. In any event, I love this dish with a bit of fresh orange zest. For my 3-4 qrt batches I use nearly an entire orange, and it really makes it pop.
    – Dennis, Life Fermented Blog


  3. Debbie Spivey
    December 23, 2013 at 11:54 am #

    I’ve heard a similar story also. Love Puttanesca!


  4. December 23, 2013 at 5:03 pm #

    the “whores” pasta got its name because they made it to attract seamen coming in from sea, the smell of the garlic and anchovies was appealing to them and they came to eat and indulge in other pleasures. I think this is how the “bag” got it’s name too, sailors would put a sack over the head of the ugly, cheap whores which they referred to as old bags, so they started calling a sack a bag.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: