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Pasta Puttanesca and San Marzano DOP Tomatoes

We’re about to share with you the most delicious Pasta Puttanesca recipe. And part of the reason it’s so delicious is because it uses real Italian San Marzano DOP tomatoes. More on that in a moment…

Pasta Puttanesca

What is Pasta Puttanesca?

So Pasta Puttanesca is basically a super-simple pasta dish using ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. The most legitimate backstory on this dish dates back to a restaurant in Ischia in the 1950s. Some customers came in late and night and the owner explained that he didn’t have many ingredients left. So they asked him to “Facci una puttanata qualsiasi,” or “throw together whatever.”

But the much more popular backstory (not necessarily true) incorporates “puttana” or “prostitute.” One version claims that women of the night made this pasta because it allowed them to cook dinner quickly and get down to business. Another version says that they would cook this pasta to lure men to the door with its irresistible aroma.

Now *there’s* something that sounds believable.

Most Pasta Puttanesca recipes call for olives, capers, and anchovies. We left out the anchovies in this version so we could make it vegan. But we wanted to up the salty, umami flavor, so we added brine from the olives and a small amount of soy sauce.

Why San Marzano DOP Tomatoes?

This recipe is so easy when you use canned tomatoes. And if you’re going to use canned tomatoes, you might as well use the best.


We use tomatoes that are labeled Pomodoro San Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese – Nocerino DOP. This is not a brand but a type of tomato grown and picked exclusively for the can. Farmers cultivate these tomatoes in the 41 towns situated within the volcanic-rich production area of Agro Sarnese-Nocerino near Naples, Italy. Importantly, they are the only cans that can us the DOP label. 

These tomatoes are packed salt-free with no preservatives so you can taste the freshness immediately. In fact, most people consider these tomatoes the “crown jewel” of European canned tomatoes.

Pasta Puttanesca Recipe

Pasta Puttanesca

This vegan version of Pasta Puttanesca is made with San Marzano DOP tomatoes, the world's best canned tomatoes. You will not miss the anchovies!

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword capers, kalamata olives, pasta puttanesca, vegan
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, mashed
  • 1 28-ounce can San Marzano DOP tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped and pitted Kalamata black olives
  • 1/8 cup capers
  • 1 tbsp brine from olives
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound spaghetti


  1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute briefly until light golden brown and fragrant. Add the tomatoes and break up any large pieces of tomato with a spoon. Bring the mixture to a boil.

  2. Add the olives, capers, olive brine, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper (to taste) to the mix. (Depending on your taste, you may not want any additional salt.) Stir, reduce the heat so the mixture is simmering, and simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Cook the spaghetti to taste, drain it, and return it to the pot.

  4. When the sauce is finished, combine it with the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta. Stir to combine. Divide into four servings, adding a little bit of the reserved sauce to top off each serving. Serve immediately.

Notes on Pasta Puttanesca

Before you go, here are a few extra thoughts on this Pasta Puttanesca recipe.

First, you may be perfectly happy with the existing level of saltiness so you may not need to add any extra salt.

Second, you’ll notice in the recipe that we reserve just a bit of sauce to serve on top of the pasta. It just has a little extra visual appeal when you get to see the delicious tomatoes and olives and capers on top.


Third, we received the tomato cans in these pictures as a gift from the I ❤ San Marzano DOP campaign. This is a campaign co-financed by the European Commission promoting San Marzano dell’agro Sarnese-Nocerino DOP tomatoes in the USA.


Blogger disclosure: We received these tomatoes as a gift from the I ❤ San Marzano DOP campaign. We did not receive compensation for this post. This story contains links to our Amazon affiliate account. As an Amazon affiliate, we earn a small percentage of sales from our blog page at no cost to you.

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