Allez, Cuisine! Pasta Puttanesca

When we picked this sauce recipe for this week’s column, we had no idea that “puttanesca” is also the Italian word for prostitute. However, when we learned more about the derivation of this colorful name, it seemed like the perfect advertisement for this recipe’s relevance to college life. As Mark Bittman explained in a blog post for The New York Times’s “Diner’s Journal,” one theory is that prostitutes invented the recipe for its simplicity, since they were “too busy to cook much, or they had no fresh ingredients and cooked entirely from the pantry.”

Objectively speaking, it’s this simplicity that makes this dish so great. Each of the ingredients pack a wallop of flavor on their own, so there’s no need to panic your way through adding various seasonings “to taste.” And, just to make things even more ridiculously easy, each of these simple parts come out of jars or cans. Our version consists of canned tomatoes, jarred roasted red peppers, jarred capers, jarred olives and canned tuna (because anchovies, while more traditional, are gross).


1/2 lb spaghetti

Olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 can tuna, drained

3 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped

1/2 cup roasted red peppers

1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes


1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente.

2. While the pasta is boiling, begin your sauce. First, add olive oil and the garlic to a large frying pan over medium heat. Saut?ee until fragrant and lightly brown.

3. Add tuna, capers, Kalamata olives and red peppers. Cook, stirring frequently, until tuna is slightly browned, about two minutes.

4. Add diced tomatoes and red pepper flakes. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and flavors

incorporate, about 10 to 12 minutes.

5. Drain pasta and add to sauce. Serve with grated parmesan or romano cheese.

Contact Claire Littlefield at [email protected] and Emma Ellis at [email protected].