Cherry Tomato Pasta Puttanesca

A classic goes seasonal with this quick Cherry Tomato Pasta Puttanesca, flavored with capers, olives, anchovies, and a hint of spice.

cherry tomato pasta puttanesca 

Pasta Puttanesca is a legendary Italian dish–and one with a colorful past.  Legend has it that it’s appealing aroma was used to lure clients in…  to visit waiting “ladies of the evening”! 

Seasoned with capers, olives, anchovies and a bit of spice, the rich flavor can’t have hurt either! 

Today, the dish serves a much more ordinary clientele, but the flavor is still amazing.

Now Pasta Puttanesca is typically made with regular tomatoes, but I often use cherry tomatoes.  This is based on my local eating habit, which can result in mountains of cherry tomatoes lying all over my kitchen. Yes, when the cherry tomatoes are flowing, it’s a great way to use them up!

cherry tomato pasta puttanesca

And this December has produced more of the tiny wonders from my CSA’s greenhouse!  Even in Wisconsin!

Yes, life is good!

Why You’ll Love This!

Flavorful.  Full of tasty ingredients that combine together perfectly, Cherry Tomato Pasta Puttanesca is a taste sensation!

Easy.  This uses just a handful of readily available ingredients with simple preparation steps.

Healthy.  Tomatoes are healthy and you even get some nice olive oil in here.  Serve over pasta made with whole wheat for more fiber and nutrition.

cherry tomato pasta puttanesca

What You’ll Need

Ingredient Notes

  • Olive oil.  This is used to sautee the aromatics and adds flavor.  Another oil can be substituted if needed.
  • Garlic, onion.  These fresh aromatics add lots of flavor.
  • Dried crushed red pepper, oregano.  These add flavor.  Adjust the crushed red pepper to your tastes.
  • Cherry tomatoes.  This is the main ingredient.  You can substitute canned tomatoes.
  • Kalamata olives, capers.  These add a briny goodness to the sauce!
  • Anchovies.  This adds a note of umami.  It can be omitted if you must.
  • Fresh Italian parsley.  This adds flavor and a hint of color.
  • Salt, pepper.  These enhance flavor.
  • Pasta.  This is the base for the sauce.  I use whole wheat spaghetti or angel hair but other types of pasta may be used as well. 

Special Tools

  • No special tools required!

Step by Step Directions

Sautee onion and garlic in olive oil until just soft. 

sautee onion

Add dried crushed red pepper, oregano, tomatoes, olives, capers and tomatoes.  Cook until tomatoes soften but still have some body. 

add tomatoes

Add anchovies and parsley and combine.

add anchovies & parsley

Serve over hot pasta.


How to Serve

Cherry Tomato Pasta Puttanesca is typically served over spaghetti and I like to use a thin style like angel hair or capellini. 

I almost always use whole wheat which pasta which is better nutritionally.  Now I’m using Delallo brand organic whole wheat capellini, which has none of the grittiness you occasionally find in whole wheat pastas (I like Bionaturae also, but they recently discontinued their thin spaghettini).

A salad is a perfect accompaniment and I’ll often serve my Spicy Italian Salad.  Garlic bread is always welcome as well!

cherry tomato puttanesca with salad

Variations and Special Diets

As you might suspect, Pasta Puttanesca is also delicious made with canned or full-sized fresh tomatoes.  If you do use fresh regular tomatoes, you’ll need to compensate for the extra liquid.  I’d use Roma tomatoes if I could, then peel, de-seed, chop and drain first.

And if you’d like some other cherry tomato recipes, check out my Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad or Appetizer, my Broccoli Cheese Casserole. or my Cheesy Green Bean Casserole. We love them, although serving the casseroles one too many times did get one of my kids to comment This is good but can we please just have pasta already.  Done!

Of course, if you’re looking for a creamier pasta, how about some Spaghetti with Alfredo Sauce or Ground Turkey Alfredo.

Special Diets

Cherry Tomato Puttanesca is dairy free as is.  And if you’d like to go vegan or vegetarian, you just need to omit the anchovies.  While they add a lovely umami accent, there is still plenty of flavor if they are left out.

For gluten free, simply use a gluten free pasta.  How easy is that!

cherry tomato pasta puttanesca


Store leftover sauce and pasta separately in the refrigerator for best results.  They should keep about 3-5 days per .  In a pinch, leftovers can be frozen safely but will likely suffer from changes in texture.

Tips & FAQs 

Do you suffer from fear of anchovies?  If so, you should know that used in small quantities like here (or my Caesar Salad dressing), they don’t really add a fish flavor.  Instead it’s more of a umami accent that enhances flavor, much like people used to add MSG for.  I encourage you to give it a try, maybe in a small portion first.

Yes, I’ll eat an anchovy pizza, but my husband won’t and still enjoys them in this (or the salad).

cherry tomato pasta puttanesca

cherry Tomato pasta puttanesca

Cherry Tomato Pasta Puttanesca

A classic goes seasonal with quick Cherry Tomato Pasta Puttanesca, flavored with capers, olives, anchovies and a hint of spice.
Author: Inger
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4
Calories 328 kcal


  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 onion , small, or 1/2 a large onion, chopped finely
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 2-3 pints cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives chopped
  • Tablespoon capers drained
  • 1/2 can flat anchovies mashed, or a teaspoon of miso paste, or omit for vegan
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian parsley minced
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces whole wheat pasta cooked


  • Sautee onion and garlic in olive oil until just soft.  Add dried crushed red pepper, oregano, tomatoes, olives and capers.  Cook until tomatoes soften but still have some body. Add anchovies, if using and parsley then combine.
  • Serve over hot pasta.


Calories: 328kcalCarbohydrates: 56gProtein: 11gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gSodium: 164mgPotassium: 696mgFiber: 3gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 1279IUVitamin C: 58mgCalcium: 68mgIron: 4mg
I am not a health professional and nutrition data is calculated programatically. Accuracy may vary with product selection, calculator accuracy, etc. Consult a professional for the best information.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


Updated from original, published on Aug 14, 2016

5 thoughts on “Cherry Tomato Pasta Puttanesca

  1. Juliana

    Yes, I love this pasta, loaded with cherry tomatoes and all the ingredients in it…especially the anchovies…so tasty!
    Have a wonderful week Inger 🙂

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