Recipe: Puttanesca Pasta Salad

This pasta dish probably looks eerily similar to the Tricolore Pasta that I posted a few weeks ago. That’s because in fundamentals, it is. The process — making a thick ‘sauce’ that’s loosened by the hot pasta — is exactly the same. I can’t recommend this technique to you enough if you need a pasta dish in a hurry. With just a few ingredients, a sauce really can make itself!

I made this last week when I was yet again in need of a quick, healthy lunch that could last a few days. Whole Foods had these gorgeous spicy mixed olives on their olive bar, so I thought I’d get some and make a ‘Puttanesca’ inspired dish. A typically southern Italian dish, the classic Puttanesca features spaghetti tossed with olives, tomatoes, capers, anchovies, garlic, and chili peppers. This dish covers all those, but omits the capers (I was out of them) and the anchovies (I actually like them, just not in a pasta salad!). I also tossed in some green parsley for color and flavor, and some sweet orange bell pepper to counter the saltiness. The result is a pasta dish that you can eat warm or cold. Make it ahead and bring it to a garden party this summer — it’d be perfect! Get the recipe and another photo after the jump.

Puttanesca Pasta Salad
Easily serves 4 as a meal; 6-8 as a side dish

1/2 pint spicy marinated pitted olives, drained (I got mine from the olive bar at Whole Foods)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup tightly packed fresh Italian parsley leaves
–freshly ground black pepper, extra virgin olive oil
10 oz conchiglie (shell) pasta
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
— extra parsley leaves for garnish
OPTIONAL: cooked diced chicken

In a food processor, combine the olives and any juice (up to maybe a tablespoons worth), the cheese, the garlic, and the parsley leaves. Grind in the black pepper, then pulse until the mixture is coarse. Open the top of the food processor and scrape down the sides. Put the top back on, and with the machine on, begin drizzling in the olive oil. You’ll need about 1/4-1/2 cup to get a smooth, pesto like consistency. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again if need be to mix the ingredients well.

Transfer the olive mixture to a large bowl. Add in the chopped orange pepper and the tomatoes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a roiling boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions, then reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Drain the pasta in a colander, without shaking it too much — you want to retain some of the pasta water. Pour the pasta over the veggies and the olive mix, then toss to combine. The olive mixture will coat the pasta, but if you want it a little thinner, add a couple tablespoons of the reserved pasta water. If you’re using chopped chicken, add it in now. Garnish with the parsley leaves and serve — it’s great warm or cold, and will last a few days in the fridge!



  1. 4.3.12
    Rachel said:

    This looks delicious!! Would love to try it sometime soon!

  2. 4.3.12
    viv said:

    This looks SO good!!

  3. 4.3.12
    Kate said:

    Oh I love this! perfect to carb up before the half marathon Im running this weekend!

    <3 Kate

  4. 4.3.12


  5. 4.3.12
    Emily said:

    This looks heavenly!!

  6. 4.3.12

    Yum…can’t wait to try this!

  7. 4.3.12
    Alexa said:

    Oh my goodness Victoria. This looks delicious. As an Italian…anything with pasta has my vote! Ha.

  8. 4.3.12

    Sounds fab! I’m on the hook for a pasta salad to add to our Easter table and this would be a nice twist.

  9. 4.3.12

    That dish looks so yummy! I wish I had as strong of a desire to cook as I do to eat!

  10. 4.3.12
    Ashley said:

    annndddd I’ll be making this asap! Looks delicious!

  11. 4.3.12
    Keren V. said:

    I still love that “puttanesca” is technically considered peasant’s food! All of my favorites are “peasant’s food” – goulash, borscht, polenta, et. al.!

  12. 4.3.12
    Ashley said:

    This looks yummy !!!

  13. 4.3.12
    Kelly said:

    Wow! Looks delicious!

  14. 4.4.12

    Yum! I might be making this for dinner tonight!

  15. 4.4.12

    Yummy yummy, you had me at creamy and quick! Those are my magic words.

  16. 4.4.12
    Melissa said:

    Let me start with “I love your blog!” Now about that pasta dish, looks delicious. I have a go-to cold pasta salad recipe that I bring to BBQ’s in the Summer and I’m always surprised by how impressed people are by it (super easy to make though I rarely mention that). I’ll have to try yours.

  17. 4.4.12
    Bradley said:

    This looks delicious! So happy you shared this.

Comments are closed.