Small Batch Pasta Puttanesca

When you eat seasonably like we do, the goal is to use preserved foods by the time the new crops come in. 

Frozen roasted tomatoes needed to be used up to make freezer space. I had a small amount of capers and anchovy paste in the refrigerator. Those needed to go, as well. 

That’s why I made a small batch pasta puttanesca for supper yesterday.

Pasta puttanesca has a storied past. Supposedly the dish was created by Neapolitan ladies of the night, thus the name. Known as “pasta with attitude”, puttanesca is easy and quick but it’s not a mellow, timid sauced pasta. Briny capers, red pepper flakes, sharp flavored Greek olives and anchovies make for a robust sauce. 

Note the Parmesan in the recipe. Some purists wouldn’t add cheese to a pasta containing seafood. But I’m thinking anchovies don’t count. What’s your opinion? 

This really was a filling and yummy meal after a satisfying day tilling and weeding the gardens. 

Quick small batch pasta puttanesca

If you want to make a full batch with 1 pound of pasta, you can double the ingredients, but do taste as you go along regardless. Adding more of any ingredient is easy, taking away is not. Taste as you go.

Note that the capers are drained, rinsed and drained again. Otherwise, they may be too assertive in the sauce.

Also I didn’t add any salt to the sauce due to the saltiness of the capers and anchovies. 


1/2 pound pasta

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic/2 nice cloves

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3/4 teaspoon anchovy paste

14.5 oz canned diced tomatoes with juice or equivalent frozen/roasted thawed

1 tablespoon capers, drained, rinsed, drained

1/4 cup coarsely chopped or sliced Greek olives

Parmesan cheese and fresh minced parsley (parsley is optional)


While pasta is cooking, make sauce:

Pour olive oil in large skillet over low heat. 

Add garlic, red pepper flakes and anchovy paste. 

Cook, stirring constantly, just until garlic is fragrant but not brown, a couple of minutes. 

Careful here, you don’t want the garlic to burn.

Stir in tomatoes, capers and olives and bring up to medium heat.  

Cook until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. My sauce was done by the time pasta was cooked.

Drain pasta, pour sauce over and garnish with parsley and Parmesan.

Anchovy filets vs paste

Each filet equals about 1/2 teaspoon paste

Fun fact

Poor man’s capers are pickled nasturtium pods. Nasturtium flowers and leaves are peppery and contain vitamins, including vitamin C. 

Photo of my caper bush

I have a new caper bush in the Bible portion of my herb garden. 

I’ll let you know if it grows well enough to harvest berries.

4 thoughts on “Small Batch Pasta Puttanesca

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.