How to Make Gnocchi Alla Puttanesca

Any pasta "alla puttanesca" translates roughly from Italian as "being in style of a prostitute, a cocotte". Puttanesca is a sauce, and the story behind it, or it's been said, is that it was what Italian prostitutes (at some point in history) would eat in-between clients as it was quick and seemingly packed with nutrition. The odiferous nature of the sauce also sparks innuendos of its own...

This particular dish involves gnocchi (potato-stuffed dough balls---Italian pierogies), but can involve any other type of pasta you have on hand. The recipe is vegetarian, pungent, and takes little time to throw together. Enjoy!

Total Cooking Time: 15 - 20 minutes. Serves 3 - 5 people.


  • 1 tin anchovies, olive oil-packed
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled/finely chopped
  • 28 oz can diced roma tomatoes
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 tbs bell paper paste
  • 1/2 cup capers, drained
  • 2 tbs oregano, dried
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, powdered
  • 2 tbs chili pepper flakes
  • 1 tbs sea salt
  • 1 tbs black pepper
  • 8 basil leaves
  • 2 17.6 oz packages gnocchi


  1. Image titled Make Gnocchi Alla Puttanesca Step 1
    Place a stove-top wok over medium heat. Add the anchovies with oil as well as the garlic cloves. Dust with black pepper, caramelize until anchovies liquify---gently mix with a spatula.
  2. Image titled Make Gnocchi Alla Puttanesca Step 2
    Pour in the diced tomatoes over the caramelized fish/garlic mix. Add the bell pepper and tomato pastes; then, spoon in the cinnamon, oregano, chili flakes, and sea salt. Mix thoroughly, bring to a simmer.
  3. Image titled Make Gnocchi Alla Puttanesca Step 3
    Boil 5 cups of water in a large pot over high heat on a separate burner. Add roughly two teaspoons of coarse sea salt and two tea spoons of olive oil.
  4. Image titled Make Gnocchi Alla Puttanesca Step 4
    Add gnocchi to the boiling water. When the gnocchi surfaces---it's done! Strain once finished.
  5. Image titled Make Gnocchi Alla Puttanesca Step 5
    Remove the simmering puttanesca from heat. Incorporate the strained gnocchi into the sauce. Add the capers. Garnish with fresh basil leaves and parmesan cheese.
  6. Image titled Make Gnocchi Alla Puttanesca Final


  • If you're of an Italian background, your nonna/grandmother will have taught you to simmer your sauces for hours or even days to develop their distinct characters and flavour profiles. Don't argue with her, she's right! The same can be done for a Puttanesca sauce if you have all the time in the world to do so.
  • If gnocchi is not your taste, Puttanesca works very well with long, thin pastas like linguine, spaghetti, or capelli d'angelo (angel hair).

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Categories: Pasta and Noodles