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Adventures in food for curious cooks.

Pasta Puttanesca


Pasta Puttanesca

Lynley Jones

Tomatoes, capers, anchovies, roasted garlic and kalamata olives make a deliciously complex sauce for pasta.

This recipe was originally created for our Series of Unfortunate Recipes, based on the book and Netflix series by Lemony Snicket.

Serves 4-6


Pasta Puttanesca made in the Adventure Kitchen.

6 cloves of garlic, unpeeled

2 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

8 anchovy fillets, drained and chopped small

3/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives

2 Tablespoons capers, drained

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 28-oz cans diced tomatoes

Coarse salt and black pepper, if needed

1/4 cup minced parsley

1/3 cup minced basil leaves

About 1/2 cup Shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for serving


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the middle position.

2. Place a large square of heavy-duty aluminum foil (or standard foil doubled in thickness) on your work surface and place the unpeeled garlic cloves in the middle of the square. Carefully drizzle 1/2 Tablespoon of the olive oil over the garlic cloves and enclose them in the foil. Put the foil package directly on the oven rack, seam side up, to roast for 30 minutes, until the cloves are lightly golden and very soft.

3. While the garlic is roasting, warm the remaining 2 Tablespoons of oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat.  Add the onions and anchovies and saute for 15-20 minutes, until quite soft.

4. While the onions and anchovies are simmering, cut the olives into small pieces.

5. When the garlic is finished, carefully remove the foil packet from the oven. When it has cooled enough for you to handle it, remove the skins from the garlic cloves and drop the soft, skinless cloves onto a plate.  Use a fork to mash them into a soft puree, and add them to the onion and anchovy mixture.

6. Add the olives, capers and red pepper to the pot, briefly mixing everything together.

7. Add the diced tomatoes to the pot and mix to combine. Set the lid askew and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. While the sauce simmers, cook a pound of pasta noodles in generously salted water.  We like to use cut pasta with lots of nooks and crannies (such as the fusilli pictured) to help hold all the chunky ingredients in this type of sauce. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water before you drain the pasta, in case you need it in the last step.

8. Taste the sauce and add a bit of salt or pepper if needed.  If you used unsalted tomatoes you may need to add a bit of salt, but if the tomatoes were salted you may not need a thing.

9. When you are confident the seasonings are right, stir in the parsley and most of the basil (reserve a bit to sprinkle on as a garnish at the end if you like).  Allow to simmer about 5 minutes more, then serve.

10. To serve, toss the noodles and sauce together in a large bowl, adding a splash or two of the pasta water if it seems a little dry. Sprinkle the remaining basil and the cheese over the top.