There's more than just a little 'puttana' in this recipe for puttanesca

 So this is not the most sophistacated of dishes. In a way, it goes without saying, I mean the clue is in the name right?  The origins of the name of this sauce come from the Italian word puttana meaning (I apologize now to those of a sensitive nature), slut.  So, you can imagine what kind of sauce this is.  It doesn't follow the rules, it's not careful or up tight, it's  a kind of throw everything at it kind of meal.  It has spice and tang.  Whatever you think of it, you definitely can't ignore it!PuttanescaCod1

Preparation Time:  Less than10 minutes

Cooking Time: Less than 20 minutes

Ingredients for 4 Servings
2 x tbsp olive oil
2 x shallots chopped finely
4 x large garlic cloves chopped finely
5 or 6 anchovy filets chopped finely
½ tsp of dried chili flakes (more if you like it spicier)
2 x tsp of tomato purée
4 x tbsp capers, chopped roughly
250gr / ½ lb of pitted green olives chopped roughly
550gr / 1.2lb of cod filet, chopped into bite sized pieces.  You can also poach the fish whole if you prefer, but I like to chop it up.  This means that you can get away with not using the most ‘beautiful’ pieces.  It helps too, if you, like me, mess up when you try and skin the fish.
1 z tin (400gr / 14 oz.) of chopped tomatoes
400gr / 14 oz. fresh tomatoes chopped finely
A small handful of flat leaved parsley, chopped  finely
Juice of one lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.


  1. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan and add the shallots, garlic and anchovies.  Cook them on a medium high heat until the shallots soften a little and the anchovies melt.  This will take about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the chili flakes, tomato purée, capers and olives, stir through to combine and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  3. Add the lemon juice to de—glaze your pan, turn up the heat and let it bubble off, stirring through as it does to get an even mixture.
  4. Add the fresh tomatoes, chopped parsley (keeping back about a third of it to dress the dish if you wish), and the tinned tomatoes.  Add a little salt and pepper.  You probably won’t need too much salt because the anchovies, capers and the olives are quite salty, but I always think it needs a little, just to get the flavour out of the rest of the ingredients and to balance your dish.
  5. Cook on a medium heat, or a heat that allows your sauce to bubble gently for about 7 minutes.
  6. Then, add your pieces of fish by placing them evenly throughout the sauce.  Press them gently into the sauce so that they can poach evenly.  Turn down the heat to a very gently simmer.
  7. Your dish is ready when the fish is cooked.  This should take about 4 to 7 minutes, depending on how big you have made the pieces.
  8. One final check for seasoning and serve with a good quality pasta or polenta.

Tips and Variations

  • This spicy sauce works on its own, without fish.
  • Goes great with swordfish or tuna.  In this case I like to fry my fish off (or grill it) separately.  I give it a rub with some garlic and then squeeze some lemon juice over it as it comes out of the pan.  Then, I either serve the sauce over the fish or on the side.