Shrimp and Pasta Puttanesca

We had an amazing dinner last week.  I am drawn to the briny, sharp, spicy flavors that are typical of a puttanesca.  But, I have never made the dish and decided that if I enjoyed it so much, then I should figure out how to prepare it.  There was only one called for anchovies.  Anchovies bring back memories that make me frown and wrinkle my nose....they are pungent; they are fishy.

When I was growing up, we would go for pizza on occasion and my dad always ordered pizza with anchovies.  How gross...besides the fact that they were smelly and I was insistent that I could smell them, they tasted to quickly ruin a pizza outing.  He didn't change his ordering habits but instead of making me eat them, he was happy to eat my share.  Of course, I had to find the little buggers to get them off before taking a bite and I still contend that they left a taste and smell on my piece of pizza even when they weren't there!!

I know that I am not alone when it comes to strong feelings about anchovies.  I know that there must be others who shy away from them too.  Childhood memories should not dictate today's dinner...(unless of course, it is liver and that will never cross the threshold here.)  I guess it was time for me to put on my big girl panties, buy a can of anchovies, and make the sauce.  I only wrinkled my nose a couple of times during the process as I kept hoping that I wasn't ruining the sauce....

I was so happy to see the anchovies "melt" into the dish...I could only smile as they disappeared.  But, they brought such a complexity of flavors to the dish that I can't imagine having it without them.  There, I said it...I cannot imagine making a puttanesca without anchovies!  It was a delicious meal with layers of flavors that had me going back for more....more than once!

Thank you, Danielle for digging out your magazine and making such a winning dinner!  I was excited to be assigned Danielle's blog, Mostly Food and Crafts for this month's Secret Recipe Club.  Danielle is a stay at home mom who loves to cook and loves to craft.  She makes some delicious meals and has spent many hours crafting with her children.  What a lucky family!

Her recipe motivated me to try a dish that I have never prepared:  Shrimp and Pasta Puttanesca!  As I didn't have any marinara sauce on hand, I made some adjustments to the recipe and made my own sauce.  This was so worth my anguish over anchovies!!  Next up is her Spaghetti alla Carbonara!!

Shrimp and Pasta Puttanesca
adapted from Mostly Food and Crafts via Real Simple

1 pound pasta (I selected linguini.)
2 Tbsps olive oil
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1/2 Tbsp capers, roughly chopped
1/3 to 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
3-4 anchovy fillets, finely chopped

1 red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 1/2 to 2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/3 cup chopped parsley

Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano when served.

Place the tomatoes in a saucepan.  I mashed them to create a bit of a thick sauce.  Simmer until reduced to a good saucy consistency.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add 2 Tbsp kosher salt.  Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook until al dente.  Drain, reserving 3/4 cup of the pasta water.

In another large pot, heat the oil.  Add the onion, garlic and anchovies and cook  over medium heat, stirring, until the onion is lightly browned and the anchovies have broken down.  Add the shrimp to the pot and cook until the shrimp begin to  turn pink, about 2-3 minutes.  Turn the shrimp and add the capers and olives.  Cook for another 2 minutes.  Add the tomato sauce, parsley and the red pepper flakes.  Cook, stirring, until fragrant about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Add the pasta and some of the reserved pasta water to the mixture.  Stir and toss gently over medium heat until the pasta is well coated. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve sprinkled with fresh parsley and freshly grated Parmigiano.


The fear of anchovies is gone...I would say that moderation and the fact that they melt into the sauce is the reason...if I can't see it, it isn't there!  If my Dad was still with us he would have loved this meal.


  1. I'm so glad you liked it! How funny I had your blog this time- we loved your whole lemon bar recipe.

    1. Danielle, this was so very delicious. I am so happy that I decided to make it. Wow! It goes on the rotation. Mr. T. loved it...every forkful!

  2. Mmmmm, over-the-top delicious flavors in this puttanesca recipe. I can't wait to try this version with our next batch of shrimp.

  3. I can't eat shrimp but this looks like a yummy dish.

  4. Hi Kate,
    I love your presentation and your recipe, can't wait to try this one. Have a great week!
    Miz Helen

  5. As Mario Batali says with regard to anchovies, you are under no obligation to tell anyone they are in a dish. Have always loved the flavors of a puttanesca. Lovely presentation Kate.

  6. Did you say capers ..... and olives ????? Love this and it's a must make. Great SRC Choice.

  7. My husband would love this! Great SRC choice!

  8. And your header is an amazing shot of your amazing meal. I'm an anchovy fan but have heard the TV cooks say just what you experienced, so if we made a dish calling for them, I used to sneak them in on Bev, until she discovered she really liked Caesar salad dressing. I would be perfectly happy with a dish made from your first six ingredients but the whole thing sounds awesome and is going on the list.

  9. I have never cooked with anchovies - you're so brave to conquer your memories from the past and give it a try! The dish looks delicious. Nice job!

  10. I love danielle's recipes. My family loves anchoives I need to try this one. Great beach recipe with fresh shrimp

  11. I'm afraid of anchovies too. This helps me.

  12. A classic but a favorite!!! LOVE!

  13. This looks like something my family would love. I can't stand seeing anchovies but love the flavor they add, this sounds perfect!

  14. Looks delicious. I love all things shrimp.

  15. This sounds so good! I love puttanesca pasta sauces, the olives and capers to it for me!

  16. I agree about anchovies. Yuk! But they are really good in Caesar Salad dressing so they must be good in your dish.

  17. Congrats on conquering past food memories! I'm still not a huge fan of anchovies, but they do add a certain flavor. :)


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