Pasta Puttanesca: Tuna, Olives and Capers in a Tomato Sauce

Traditionally, puttanesca sauce is served with spaghetti in a dish known for being “in the style of the whore”. Oooh so devilish. There is a tale, saying its origins stem from the word “puttana” which in Italian means whore — why you ask? Well they say it’s so quick and easy. Ooooh dear!

Although there are many myths, the true origins of its name are debatable. One thing’s for certain – it makes an easy, quick, and delicious pasta puttanesca sauce. The ingredients are typical of Southern Italian cuisine: tomatoes, olives, capers and garlic. Its spicy, salty, and savory taste make for a comforting midwinter meal, just add a salad and a loaf of ciabatta and enjoy!

This is definitely one of my favorite pasta dishes and one I make often. My other favorite, is spaghetti with smoked salmon and capers in a white wine sauce. It’s one that I get asked again and again to make. It’s really quick and really easy and simply delicious. Actually, it’s impressive enough for a spontaneous dinner invitation. LITERALLY! The subtle saltiness of capers together with the smoked salmon definitely keep you coming back for more, and more and more! This one too!

Pasta Puttanesca: Tuna, Olives and Capers in a Tomato Sauce
5 from 2 votes

Puttanesca: Tuna, Olives and Capers in a Tomato Sauce

This fantastic puttanesca recipe is a bold and beautiful dish, packed with flavour from olives, capers, tomatoes and tuna.
Course Main Course
Category Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4
Autor Elle


  • 500 g dried pasta of your choice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 680 g glass jar organic passata Italian tomatoes (pureed tomato)
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 or more garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 can good-quality sustainable tuna, drained
  • 1 tablespoon capers rinsed, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or to taste
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • handful fresh chopped parsley
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • freshly grated parmesan, to taste


  1. In a large skillet, sauté garlic and diced shallots in olive oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soft but without coloring.
  2. Add olives, capers, red pepper flakes and red wine and cook until reduced by half.
  3. Stir in the pureed tomatoes, tuna, oregano and allow to simmer for at least 20 minutes. If necessary, add a little water to adjust the consistency of the sauce.
  4. Meanwhile, fill the large pot with cold water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat and add pasta, stirring occasionally to prevent the pasta from sticking. Cook according to packet instructions, until al dente.
  5. Toss sauce with fresh parsley and pasta.
  6. Season sauce with freshly ground pepper, according to taste. Garnish with parmesan before serving. Enjoy!

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