This Pasta Puttanesca with Sausage is the kind of easy dinner perfect for a last-minute weeknight meal, but also impressive and delicious enough to serve to weekend dinner guests!
Why is it that so often the simplest meals are the best meals? While I was writing this recipe down, I kept thinking I must have missed some ingredients. This pasta dish is absolute perfection, but has a fairly short ingredient list.
But now that I've made this several times, I can tell you with 100% confidence that absolutely nothing has been left out. In fact, I didn't even add salt and pepper to this dish! There's already so much flavor and umami from the olives, capers, anchovy paste, and sausage that no additional seasoning was necessary.
This is the kind of meal you make at the last minute on weeknights because it's so easy. And then make again when you have company on the weekends because it's so delicious.
It's the kind of dinner that will automatically be added into your meal rotation, no questions asked, because you'll find yourself craving it all the time.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Aside from the simple ingredients and incredibly easy process, you'll love the fact that this dish is so packed with flavor!
If you already love pasta puttanesca, you'll really enjoy the addition of sausage into the fairly traditional dish. It adds even more flavor and a little extra protein.
I've made this so many times, I could practically make it with my eyes closed. And I never seem to get tired of it!
What is Pasta Puttanesca?
Pasta Puttanesca is an Italian dish made with spaghetti or linguine and a sauce that often consists of tomatoes, olives, capers, and garlic.
There's a rich history and lots of debate behind the meaning of the word "puttanesca." But the origins of the dish is often credited to Sandro Petti, a Naples restaurant owner who, in the 1950s, found himself with some late night customers when he was low on ingredients.
When he told the customers he didn't have much on hand, they allegedly said, "Facci una puttanata qualsiasi," which translates to "throw together whatever." So, he took the tomatoes, olives, and capers he had on hand and threw together a pasta puttanesca.
However, because the word "puttana" also translates to "prostitute," some say the dish originated in in the brothels of the Spanish Quarters as a meal that was easy to eat quickly in between clients.
Don't you just love a dish with a rich history??
I took the fairly traditional recipe and added sausage to it since I had it on hand and it sounded like it would be a delicious addition!
Like I mentioned, the ingredients for this easy dinner are simple. Here is everything you need (but also remember you can omit or add any ingredients you want/have on hand – I have several ideas later in this post):
- Ground sausage (sweet Italian or spicy)
- Olive oil (only if needed)
- Anchovy paste (or finely chopped anchovies)
- Red pepper flakes
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- Crushed tomatoes
- Oil-cured olives (like Kalamata, Castelvetrano, or other Italian/Greek olives)
- Parmesan, for topping
- Parsley, for topping
How to Make Pasta Puttanesca with Sausage
Making this dish is quick and easy, which is in part why it's such a great easy weeknight dinner!
Start by bringing a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
While the water is heating, you can cook the sausage. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add crumbled sausage (if your sausage is in casings, remove) and cook until browned.
If you need to add a little olive oil in at this point, you can. But it's also likely your sausage added enough oil to the skillet.
Add garlic to skillet and cook 1 minute, until fragrant. Stir in anchovy paste, red hot pepper flakes, and sun-dried tomatoes and cook for another 3 minutes.
Add in crushed tomatoes, stir, and let simmer for 5 minutes.
Stir in olives and capers and let mixture continue to simmer for another 10 minutes.
While sauce is simmering, add spaghetti to boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain.
Add spaghetti to skillet and toss everything together to coat pasta in sauce.
Serve pasta with grated parmesan and chopped parsley.
And that's it – dinner is ready! And it's the kind of dinner that will make everyone happy! So long as everyone loves olives. Which... even if they think they don't, I have a feeling this dish will change their mind!
Pasta puttanesca with sausage is absolutely packed with flavor and you'll likely find yourself eating the leftovers out of the skillet when you're cleaning up the kitchen after dinner (I know I did!).
What Kind of Olives to Use?
This is a great question! Traditionally, oil-cured black Italian olives are used in puttanesca dishes.
I personally like to use a mix of olives, including Kalamata (technically Greek, but used in lots of Italian dishes) and green Castelvetrano olives when I make this dish.
You can really use whatever kind you choose!
Variations on Recipe
There's so much you can do with this dish and you really can simply make it with whatever you have on hand in your kitchen. Here are a few ideas:
- If you're not a fan of olives (or someone in your family isn't), you can leave them out, but I recommend adding in more capers as you'll want to replace that brine-y umami that the olives add.
- You can, of course, leave out the sausage if you want. Or you can replace it with ground beef, turkey, or chicken. Or use sliced sausage or chicken breast. You could even use shrimp, tuna, scallops, mussels, or salmon!
- Use fresh tomatoes in recipe. I love the ease of using crushed tomatoes, but you can certainly make this pasta puttanesca with fresh tomatoes. Or add in fresh in addition to the canned.
- Mix in ricotta cheese. This would add a deliciously creamy aspect to the dish!
- Add beans, chickpeas, or nuts for extra protein.
- Stir in whatever vegetables you happen to have on hand.
More Pasta Recipes
I could eat this pasta puttanesca with sausage over and over again and never tire of it! But I also have plenty of other delicious pasta dishes in my arsenal. Here are some of my favorites:
- Butternut Squash Pasta with Fried Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta
- Caesar Salad Pasta
- Pumpkin Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Spinach
- Baked Lemon Ricotta Pasta
- Pasta with Turkey Meatballs and Mozzarella
- Steak and Shrimp Scampi
- Spaghetti with Pancetta, Green Beans, and Basil
- Spaghetti with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Spinach (from Cooking Classy)
- One Pot Spaghetti Carbonara (from A Spicy Perspective)
Make this pasta puttanesca with sausage once and I pretty much guarantee it will end up in your regular meal rotation!
Add a different protein, mix in some veggies, and change out an ingredient or two and you can probably even sneak it into your meal plan once a week with zero complaints!
Pasta Puttanesca with Sausage
- 1 lb. ground sausage (sweet Italian or spicy)
- 2 tsp olive oil (optional)
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp anchovy paste (or whole anchovies chopped)
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- ¾ cup oil-cured olives like Kalamata or Castelvetrano
- 3 Tbsp capers, drained
- 1 lb. spaghetti
- Grated parmesan cheese, for topping
- Chopped parsley for topping
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add crumbled sausage (if your sausage is in casings, remove) and cook until browned.
- If needed, you can add a little olive oil to the skillet (but you may have enough from the sausage). Add garlic to skillet and cook 1 minute, until fragrant. Stir in anchovy paste, red hot pepper flakes, and sun-dried tomatoes and cook for another 3 minutes.
- Add in crushed tomatoes, stir, and let simmer for 5 minutes.
- Stir in olives and capers and let mixture continue to simmer for another 10 minutes.
- While sauce is simmering, add spaghetti to boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain.
- Add spaghetti to skillet and toss everything together to coat pasta in sauce.
- Serve pasta with grated parmesan and chopped parsley.