A Delicious Dish with a Somewhat Shady Past

Pasta Puttanesca may have it's roots in the world's oldest profession, and if so, those ladies of the evening sure knew how to cook!

No other dish in the culinary world has such an inciting and risque origin as does Pasta Puttanesca. It originated in Naples, Italy, and the word "puttanesca" translates to "in the style of the whore." Although the name of this dish is associated with ladies of the evening, there are multiple stories as to how it became known this way.

One explanation is that while the ladies cooked, the intense aroma of the sauce  would lure men from the street to their "place of business." Three additional accounts come from the fact that puttanesca sauce is quick and easy to make.
The first states that the prostitutes made it for themselves since it's quick preparation enabled them to get "back to work" quickly. Another version is that it was made in the brothels for the customers waiting their turn. The final version is that it was a favorite fast meal for an unhappy married woman to make her husband so that she would then have time to sneak out to see her lover.
No matter which story you prefer to believe, Pasta Puttanesca is sure to become a favorite meal of yours.

Pasta Puttanesca: Serves 4

  • 1 pound of the pasta of your choice
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic,peeled and minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, chopped in large pieces, with juice
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • ½ to 1 cup black olives, pitted (I prefer oil-cured or Kalamata olives)
  • Oregano, chopped, to taste
  • Parsley, chopped, to taste
  • Grated Parmesan cheese to taste


Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.

In a skillet, add about 2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, chopped onion, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Saute for a few minutes until the onions become transluscent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

To the skillet, add the tomatoes with their juice, capers and olives. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered, for 10 minutes. By now your pasta water should be boiling so cook the pasta while your sauce is simmering. Remove the pasta a couple of minutes before it's done. Drain the pasta and add it into the skillet with the sauce and cook for two minutes more.

Add the oregano, parsley and cheese and you are ready to enjoy!

Chef's Tip: Use kitchen scissors to cut up the tomatoes while still in the can. You won't have a mess on the cutting board and you'll preserve all the juices.

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