Next up in the project of posting simple things that I cook often, is my version of Puttanesca Sauce. Puttanesca sauce is a tomato sauce for pasta flavored with whatever umami bombs you might have in your pantry. So, traditionally that would be anchovies, capers, olives, garlic and chilis. I do not keep olives on hand, so my version does not have olives. My version has fish sauce, which is a south east Asian sauce made from anchovies that I try to always have around because I cook a lot of Asian food. I love fish sauce. Sometimes I use just fish sauce (if I’m out of anchovies) or just anchovies (if I’m out of fish sauce). I like this sauce best if I use BOTH. I really like anchovies. If you do not care for anchovies, you will not like this. So, clearly my recipe is not traditional. I actually think that I might try adding some kim chee juice to my next batch of Puttenesca. Hear me out. The beauty of this sauce is that it uses flavorful things that you might have in your pantry to make a sauce without having to run out and buy anything fresh. I always have kim chi and it is a funky, spicy, fishy umami bomb that would not be out of place in this sauce. Maybe you keep gochujang on hand? That would work too.

Whenever I make another recipe that uses only a portion of a can of tomatoes, I use whatever is leftover to make this sauce. I like to keep these little portions in my freezer to make quick dinners out of. I pull this out of my freezer when I’m sick. The bold flavors cut through loss of taste due to congestion and the copious amounts of garlic, oregano and vitamin C from tomatoes are truly medicinal. Truthfully, I almost never make a big batch of this sauce using an entire can of tomatoes and I don’t generally do any measuring, but I’ve done my best to provide a recipe with measurements for a 28-ounce can of tomatoes here.

I like this Puttanesca sauce on fresh fettuccini (I use the fresh gluten free one made by Taste Republic), although I think it is traditionally served on spaghetti. I also serve it with a lot of sauce, which might also be a no-no, but that’s how I like it. I usually serve it with an arugula salad but radicchio and endive would be nice too.


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups minced red onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt (more to taste. I use smoked salt)
  • 1 head of garlic peeled and minced
  • 6 anchovies, minced
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste (1 small can)
  • oregano (I use about 1 Tablespoon dried. If your oregano is old, use more. Sometimes I don’t have oregano. It’s still good without)
  • 1- 28oz can of crushed tomatoes (Tomato sauce works too)
  • 1 Tablespoon of Aleppo pepper (Aleppo is mild use 1 tsp if you are using a Italian chili flakes)
  • A few splashes of fish sauce (I use 3 Tablespoons if I have supermarket fish sauce and 2 Tablespoons if I have fish sauce from the Asian market or Red Boat)
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained
  • A handful of fresh minced parsley (very nice if you have it)


  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium high flame. Add the onions and salt and cook until translucent. Add garlic and anchovies and cook for 1 more minute. Add the tomato paste and oregano and cook for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes, bring to a bubble and then lower the heat to simmer. Season with pepper flakes, fish sauce and capers. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Keep it simmering to combine the flavours over very low heat, while you cook the pasta,
  3. I like to serve this sauce on fresh fettuccine with an arugula salad. Fresh parsley is very nice on top, but it’s also fine without.

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