Bucatini Puttanesca

Makes 4 to 6 Servings
This sauce originated from the Amalfi coast in Italy. I was taught to cook the foods of this region in Positano at the home of Diana Folonari who had the most friendly and fun cooking school in her apartment overlooking the sea. Puttanesca is derived from the word puttana, meaning "whore," which is said to have been named for its ability to attract eaters with its hot and fiery nature. Even tastier if made a day ahead, Puttanesca sauce also pairs beautifully with fish. Bucatini are the long, thick and hollow spaghetti-like strands, similar to perciatelli.


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup black olives, such as Gaeta or nicoise, rinsed, pitted, and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Italian-style green olives, rinsed, pitted, and coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons capers, preferably salt-packed, thoroughly soaked and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more for garnish
  • 1 can (28 ounces) best-quality tomatoes, half pureed, half roughly crushed
  • 1 sprig fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 pound bucatini pasta
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Place olive oil and garlic in a large saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the garlic begins to sizzle but not brown, about 30 seconds. Add the olives, capers, and 1/4 teaspoon of the red-pepper flakes. Add the pureed and crushed tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the basil sprig, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, and the oregano, and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, generously salt the boiling water. Add the pasta, and cook until tender but still firm. Set the timer for 2 minutes less than the package instructions specify, and taste for doneness. Drain the pasta, and toss with the sauce. Serve with additional red-pepper flakes, grated Parmesan cheese, and freshly torn basil leaves.
cook's note
Even tastier if made a day ahead, puttanesca sauce also pairs beautifully with fish.
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