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Italian Recipes Reimagined: Pasta Alla Puttanesca

September 1 2017

Puttanesca Sauce

“Our food maps who we are, where we come from, and what happened to us along the way.” Here, at Bala we think of food as the connection between our ancestors, history, and experience.  One of the most healing acts you can take is to prepare and eat the foods of your ancestors. But what happens when those dishes aren’t say, the healthiest? Today, we are reinterpreting one of our childhood favorites “Pasta Alla Puttanesca” to accommodate modern wisdom around diet and nutrition.

“Pasta Alla Puttanesca” translates roughly to “lady of the night” aka “spaghetti in the style of a prostitute.” So where and how did such a delicious dish became associated with such disreputable meaning? The origin of Puttanesca sauce comes from Italy, Naples, the country’s third-largest city, and the birthplace of pizza. The name derives from the Italian word “puttana” which arose from the latin word “putted” which means stinking. While there’s many multiple explanations, the first and wildly known interpretation is that the intense aroma would lure men from the streets into the local brothel. Whatever its origins, Puttanesca is a very tasty and vibrant sauce. There are many different recipes, and because of it’s flexibility in ingredients, we added a little Bala twist incorporating alternative grain, gluten-free pasta and wild Alaskan cod. 

Gluten Free Penne

These are some of the best gluten free pasta brands we have found. Try one of these for the recipe!

Puttanesca Sauce


  • Canned tomatoes (Italian organic)
  • 3 table spoons of salted capers (not easy to find but worth it)
  • Gaeta olives (can use others but we suggest finding these!) also can cut in half if you wish
  • 5 anchovies in salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • parsley
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • wild alaskan cod if using


  1. Start by washing and rinsing the capers and anchovies, then dry with paper towel.
  2. Add the olive oil to the pan and then add the crushed garlic.
  3. Cook on low heat, remove garlic when lightly browned, don’t burn!
  4. Turn up heat, add the anchovies and press with wooden spoon. The anchovies will dissolve and add a nice savory flavor.
  5. Then add the olives and capers just for a moment to let them soften, maybe 2 minutes.
  6. Turn heat down and add canned tomatoes, stir all together.
  7. If using cod you can add the cod in now and let cook with the sauce until it becomes flakey.
  8. Let sit medium low heat, until warmed through and sauce begins to become a deeper red.
  9. Meanwhile cook the pasta till al dente, drain and serve into dishes.
  10. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes if you want to add heat to the sauce.
  11. Spoon sauce over cooked pasta and enjoy, with no cheese! Italians don’t agree with adding any cheese to most dishes that contain fish.
  12. Buon appetito!

 Puttanesca Dish

One of the ways we awaken our flow and feed our soul is through consumption of healthy, fresh, wholesome food delivered by our mother nature. What foods #FeedYourSoul? 

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