Spaghetti Puttanesa Sausage

My inspiration behind this recipe is a slightly odd one. I decided to re-watch my Desperate Housewives boxset for the first time in years (don’t judge me). In the first ever episode Edie is visiting her new, extremely attractive, neighbor Mike. She brings him a ‘Homemade Sausage Puttanesca’. I thought to myself, now that sounds like a great spin on the traditional recipe. I’m a big fan of standard puttanesca, often making it as a quick midweek meal. This spaghetti sausage puttanesca version is well worth it! 

Where does Spaghetti Sausage Puttanesca come from?

Edie bringing Mike sausage puttanesca in Desperate housewives is quite clever and comical (and I’m guessing very intentional). She’s the Wisteria Lane lady of ‘questionable morals’ and is quite the man eater. Puttanesca means ‘relating to a prostitute’ in Italian (puttana meaning prostitute). The dish, which originated in the 1950’s, is legend to have been made by prostitutes for their clients (as it’s easy to throw together quickly). However apparently it was really invented in a restaurant in Ischia, an Italian island off the Nepalese coast. There were some late night guests to the restaurant, but the establishment was low on ingredients. The owner ended up putting together a random dish with things he had leftover in his kitchen. It turned out so good that it became this famous dish. The name derives from the fact that the dish was famed for it’s ease, so you could easily put it together in between ‘appointments’. Sausage puttanesca is not strictly a traditional dish – but it’s a great take on the original.

Puttanesca Sausage Spaghetti

What ingredients are in Sausage Puttanesca?

Sausage Puttanesca uses the traditional puttanesca sauce recipe and simply adds sausage. The original recipe includes anchovies, capers, olives, garlic, chilli and pasta. 

I also like to add parsley. For this recipe I used pork sausages but you could substitute for another type if you prefer.  

What pasta goes best with Spaghetti Puttanesca?

Typically it’s made with spaghetti, but really you could use any type of pasta that you like! I quite often like it with linguine as I actually prefer it over spaghetti as it’s a little ‘chunkier’. Penne or spirelli would also go really well.

For a healthy option I quite often make this with spiralized courgette and without the sausage. You end up with a super beautiful meal and low calories and carbs. It comes in at around 200 calories if you make it with courgette instead of pasta and without the sausage.

Can you make pasta puttanesca without anchovies?

Yes, you can make this puttanesca without anchovies, but if you are only doing that because you don’t like anchovies then DON’T! You honestly can’t taste them – they simply add a rich deep salty element to the dish and it does not taste fishy at all. They also dissolve into the sauce so you won’t come across chunks of anchovy in your meal. Give it a go, you won’t regret it!

If you are vegetarian and don’t eat fish then you could add more capers to replace some of the saltiness from the anchovies.

Have you got any other variations you’ve tried on the traditional puttanesca recipe? I’d love to hear them in the comments below if you have!

If you are a fan of pasta recipes then check out this Rigatoni Alla Gricia (one of my favourite things ever) or this Ultimate Linguine Bolognese.

Spaghetti Sausage Puttanesca
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Spaghetti Puttanesa Sausage

Spaghetti Sausage Puttanesca

  • Author: caroline
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1x


Salty, briny and extremely tasty – this Spaghetti Sausage Puttanesca recipe is absolutely delicious. It’s quick and easy to boot – you can make this in less than 20 minutes, including prep! 



Spaghetti Sausage Puttanesca Ingredients

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 75g spaghetti
  • 2 pork sausages (around 130 g)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 3 anchovies
  • 56 pitted black olives, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp capers, roughly chopped
  • small pinch chilli flakes
  • 100g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 leaves basil, roughly chopped


1. Put a large pan of generously salted water over a high heat. Then heat a couple of teaspoons of oil in a frying pan or skillet over a medium high heat. 

2. Add the whole sausages to the hot frying pan and cook for 4-5 minutes, rotating regularly, until browned all around. Remove the sausages from the pan with a fork and slice them into 2cm pices on the diagonal. Use the fork to hold the sausages when you slice as they will be hot! 

Spaghetti Sausage Puttanesca Recipe Step 1 Spaghetti Sausage Puttanesca Recipe Step 2

3. Add the spaghetti to the boiling salted water and set a time for 2 minutes less than the packet instructions. 

Spaghetti Sausage Puttanesca Recipe Step 3

4. Return the sausages to the frying pan and reduce the heat to medium. Add the garlic and the anchovies. Cook for a couple of minutes until the garlic starts to lightly brown. 

Spaghetti Sausage Puttanesca Recipe Step 4

5. Add the capers and the olives and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Add the chilli flakes, chopped tomatoes and tomato puree and stir everything together. if the sauce is very dry add a splash of water from the pasta. It shouldn’t be a ‘wet sauce’ but you want a little liquid. Season with black pepper and possibly a little salt – taste first. The anchovies add a rich saltiness to the sauce already so you may not need to add more. Cook the sauce for a further few minutes over a medium heat – you want it lightly bubbling but not boiling.

Spaghetti Sausage Puttanesca Recipe Step 5

6. Reserve some of the starchy pasta water from the spaghetti in a mug. Drain the spaghetti and add to the pan with the sauce and basil, stir everything together and cook for a further couple of minutes. Add a few splashes of the pasta water to help the sauce stick to the spaghetti. 

Spaghetti Sausage Puttanesca Pan

7. Season to taste, plate and serve. 


You can use passata instead of the chopped tomatoes if you prefer – I personally like the chunkiness of the chopped tomatoes

This recipe works best with black olives so I don’t think that green are a good substitution – but go ahead if you really want to. 

Feel free to scatter some freshly grated parmesan over the top. I do and I can vouch that it tastes great! (Although my Italian friend would not be impressed, since this technically contains fish and apparently you should never mix fish with cheese). 

You can substitute the basil with parsley if you prefer (or if that’s what you have in). The original recipe doesn’t actually have any herbs so feel free to omit… I just like the hint of sweetness that basil gives the dish. 

  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Hob
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 730
  • Fat: 36
  • Carbohydrates: 64
  • Protein: 35

Keywords: italian,dinner,anchovies,capers,olives,pasta,spaghetti

2 Thoughts on “Spaghetti Sausage Puttanesca”

  • Hello Caroline ,
    My Husband David & I Absolutely Enjoy The Sausage Puttanesca Dinner , I Also Discover The Dinner From Desperate Housewives , I Have Been Watching Desperate Housewives Since The Beginning , I Also Own The Desperate Housewives DVD Box Set , & The Official Desperate Housewives CookBook Very Wonderful . I Would Like To Try Different Ingredients For The Sausage Puttanesca I Think Would Be Delicious , Shrimp , Crab , Or Lobster . The Sausage Puttanesca Very Delicious Dinner & Thank You For Sharing Your Recipe .
    Sincerely ,
    Gabby Gustafsson

    • Hi Gabby, so great to hear! Really glad you enjoyed it. And yes to desperate housewives! I periodically watch the entire show from start to finish and it never gets old x

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating