This is another one of the easy pasta recipes I brought home after living in Italy. It doesn’t get much tastier than a simple single-serving pasta recipe.  Pasta with olives, fresh basil, and garlic add a deep robust flavor, Mangia!   Pasta recipes for one are the ultimate easy dinner.

Here are a few more favorite easy pasta-for-one recipes to enjoy including easy roasted red pepper sauce or an individual serving of lemon ricotta pasta. For a hearty meal, try this small slow cooker sausage and peppers recipe.

bowl of spaghetti puttanesca

If you have any extra sauce left over, it’s perfect to spread over lightly toasted French bread for a late-night snack.

Ingredients Notes

  • Garlic – Use as much garlic as you like, but at least one clove to flavor the sauce.
  • Olive oil – Use an Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Tomatoes – I mostly use fresh Roma or Campari tomatoes. Canned diced tomatoes can also be used. I usually cook the sauce a little longer when using canned tomatoes.
  • Pitted olives – I buy Kalmata’s from the olive bar, but use whichever variety you prefer. Buying from the olive bar at the grocery store is economical and avoids wasting a can of sliced olives. If you use canned olive, store the unused portion in a small mason jar and cover and refrigerate.
  • Capers – These add a nice spicy flavor,
  • Canned Anchovies – Even if you don’t like anchovies, don’t skip them as they just add a little bit of depth to the sauce, and they DON’T taste fishy. If you really don’t want to use them, you can add additional olives.
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Pasta – I prefer spaghetti for this sauce but feel free to use what you have on hand. Penne or Linguini is equally as good with this recipe.
  • Fresh Basil leaves – Fresh really is best but dried can be used in a pinch.

Recipe Directions

  1. Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, prep the ingredients.
  3. Heat up a stainless steel skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. 
  4. Add the anchovies and garlic to the skillet and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Take care not to burn the garlic.
  5. Reduce heat to low and add the olives, capers, and red pepper flakes; cook for  2-3 minutes.
  6. Add the tomatoes to the skillet and increase the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly.
  7. Spoon the sauce over the spaghetti or toss the pasta in the pan to coat the spaghetti. Stir in the basil and sprinkle with grated Parmesan before serving.

Cooking Tip

If cooking the pasta beforehand, drain, but don’t rinse. Sprinkle a little olive oil on the pasta while still in the Colander. Use tongs to toss the pasta, lightly coating it with the olive oil. This keeps the pasta from sticking.

What size skillet should I use?

A 10-inch skillet is enough to make the sauce, and toss the cooked pasta to coat with the sauce.

Can I use canned tomatoes?

Yes, use diced tomatoes, drained. Cook the sauce a little longer.

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Bowl of spaghetti alla puttanesca

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca Recipe

A simple pasta dish ready in under 30 minutes.
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 1 serving
Calories: 345kcal
Author:Sydney Dawes


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 2 Fresh Roma tomatoes chopped
  • cup pitted olives chopped
  • 1 tablespoons capers
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ pound spaghetti
  • Chopped fresh basil leaves


  • Cook pasta according to package directions.
  • Heat a heavy skillet and add 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  • Add the anchovies and garlic to the heated skillet and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute or so. Take care not to burn the garlic.  
  • Reduce heat to low and add the olives, capers and red pepper flakes, continue to cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Stir in the olives and cook for another minute.
  • Add the tomatoes to the skillet and increase the heat to medium-low. Cook stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes or until the sauce begins to thicken slightly.
  • Stir in the basil before serving.


Serving: 2cups | Calories: 345kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 3mg | Sodium: 421mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g
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