Pasta Puttanesca with Shrimp
A recipe for puttanesca sauce, tossed with silky pasta, served with shrimp. A classic Italian dish! Serve with extra Parmesan cheese and crusty bread.
I think puttanesca is quickly becoming one of my very favorite Italian sauce recipes to make. I DO love a good, spicy arrabbiata sauce, but there is something about puttanesca that makes you crave it not long after you’d had some. It’s all in the combination of brininess and saltiness of the anchovy fillets, the piquant capers, the richness of the soppressata, and the warmth of the chili flakes. When you bring all of these ingredients together with fresh tomatoes and let them simmer, a unique, highly satisfying sauce develops that is like no other.
The word “Puttanesca” literally translates to “in the style of the whore”. The story goes that this sauce originated with ladies of the night who used to make their own versions of it to entice men into their abodes. Tempting! As you’re making this sauce, allowing it to simmer, you’ll understand just how tempting it can be.
It couldn’t be easier to make, really. This is one thing I love about certain Italian sauces. It’s mostly about simmering and proportions. Basically, cook down your onions and peppers in a bit of oil, then add the garlic and sopprressata until you can smell that garlic cooking. SO good. Mix in the anchovies, chili flakes and olives. I’ve made this with both green and black olives andlove it both ways. Feel free to use both if you’d like. Last, toss in the capers, tomatoes and extra seasonings and let it simmer, simmer, simmer.
Give it time for the flavors to truly develop. The longer you let it sit, the greater the flavors will be. Resist the temptation to eat too early!
Toss the shrimp into the sauce when you’re close to serving. They only need a few minutes to cook through. Serve this up with your favorite prepared pasta noodles along with extra shredded parmesan cheese and some crusty bread for soaking up the sauce. I hope you enjoy it! Extra red pepper flakes if you want it extra spicy.
Have fun! This is my version.
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion chopped
- 1 large Italian sweet pepper chopped (or use several jalapeno peppers, chopped - red ones if you have them)
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 6 ounces chopped soppressata if desired
- 1 2-ounce tin flat anchovy fillets drained
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 cup green or black olives chopped
- 3 tablespoons capers drained
- 4 pounds fresh tomatoes peeled and chopped (or about 60 odd ounces of crushed tomatoes from cans) – I used some frozen tomatoes from our garden
- Black pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped basil
- 1 pound large shrimp peeled and deveined
- 1 pound spaghetti noodles or any pasta to your preference
- Grated Parmesan cheese for serving
Heat a large pan to medium heat and add olive oil. Heat through.
Add onion and peppers. Cook about 5 minutes to soften.
Add soppressata and garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring often.
Add anchovies, red pepper flakes and olives. Mash the anchovies and stir until they incorporate into the mixture.
Add capers, tomatoes, black pepper, parsley and basil. Mix well.
Cover and cook about 15-20 minutes, allowing the tomatoes to break down and flavors to incorporate. You can let it simmer longer for more flavor to develop. I left mine simmer over an hour.
Break up the tomatoes and stir to a rustic mix. At this point you can reduce heat to simmer while you prepare your noodles.
Prepare the noodles as directed on the box, about 10 minutes or so boiling.
While noodles are cooking, toss the shrimp into the sauce to cook. They only need a few minutes.
Drain noodles and toss with the sauce.
Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and chopped herbs.
Makes about 8 servings.