Zesty Puttanesca Sauce

[donotprint]Line Up

While hanging out with my son at my all time favorite bookstore Between the Covers in Telluride, I glanced at the message board and saw this flyer for the first annual Elk’s Club “Taste of Telluride” spaghetti cook-off. Gathering ingredients and cooking the sauce was one thing, but the biggest challenge was getting the three quarts of tomato sauce up and over the mountain to the Elk’s Club fundraiser.

Cook-off Flyer

We have no car when we are in Telluride. We rely on our feet and the public gondola to get us places. It is very easy to get around……when you are by yourself. We managed to get the sauce to the event in the baby jogger stroller, with some fits and giggles along the way.

girlx boyx1 Rainy Telluride

We got to the cook-off ready to eat and party. As soon as we walked in the door, my daughter was swooned by our new, very handsome friend Chris, creator of the awesome Playground Pump Fit Deck. Let’s just say, it was very interesting watching a five year old flirt.


There were five competitors in the “Sauce” category. Three were professional and two of us were amateur. The categories were judged separately. Voters tossed tickets into fishbowls located next to each sauce.

Sauce in bowl

Did I win? Let’s just say I took immense joy watching everyone try my sauce and compliment it. This was a sincere crowd and we felt very welcomed and well received. I didn’t win, but a bunch of votes were placed in my fishbowl. I lost to a long-standing local member of the Elk’s Club.  I believe his honorable community status probably helped sway the vote a smidge. A great time was had by all slurping spaghetti and tasting delicious sauces and gooey, yummy desserts.

Sauce Close


Zesty Puttanesca Sauce


  • I have halved the quantity down from the 3 quarts to roughly 1 1/2 quarts. There will be plenty to last the week plus some to freeze in an airtight container.
  • If you like your sauce really chunky add all the ingredients listed, if you like less chunky bits in your bite add fewer olives, capers, artichokes etc…
  • If you want more salty, briney, anchovy flavor you can also add 1 container of  Anchovies, drained and chopped small.
  • This sauce tastes even better when the flavors have a chance to “marry” overnight.


  • Splash of Olive Oil
  • 26 oz Organic Chopped Tomatoes
  • 26 oz Organic Strained Tomatoes
  • 1 large Onion, finely diced
  • a few cloves of Garlic, finely diced
  • 1 pack Mushrooms (white, crimini, your choice), cut small
  • 3 peeled Carrots, diced
  • 1 jar (6 oz) Marinated Artichoke Hearts, drained, cut small
  • 8oz pitted Kalamata Olives (The higher quality you can find the better this will taste) cut small
  • 1 jar (3.5 oz) small Capers with juice
  • 1 tube (1.6 oz) Anchovy Paste
  • Black Pepper to taste
  • Red Pepper Flakes to taste
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Salt to taste
  • a handful of fresh Italian Parsley, coarse chopped.  Save some for garnish.


Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Saute onions, garlic, carrots and mushrooms until fragrant and softened 8-10 minutes. Increase heat to high, add olives, artichokes, capers, anchovy paste, red pepper, black pepper, salt, lemon juice and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer about 30 minutes. Add a handful Chopped Parsley while simmering
Top with more parsley and some freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese when serving.



Puttanesca Recipe Links


~ Marla Meridith

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3 thoughts on “Zesty Puttanesca Sauce

  1. Hi Marla,

    When I was a kid, I would ask my Grandmother why puttanesca was named so… She would tell me it was because it was the dish “putans” would make for their male clients after the “deed”. It was very quick and easy to make, so it got them out the door quickly. It started to catch on and before long trattorias and local restaurants were serving it and creating more complicated versions. The original was supposedly just a little olive oil, chopped fresh tomatoes, anchovies, green olives, capers and garlic, cooked very quickly and tossed with a long pasta.

    See you in Telluride.


    1. Thanks Anthony!!! I am wondering how old u were when your grandma shared this story! Great to get some meaning behind my favorite sauce. Just made a huge pot…….giving the flavors a few hours to blend before I dive in!