In the Kitchen: Penne Puttanesca

Over the last few weeks, my mom has been helping me learn new recipes or just actually pay attention to recipes I love when she is making them in the kitchen. I got some really cute recipe cards, and I've began to write all of my favorites down.  There's nothing like having a boyfriend who loves to eat, to get your bootie in the kitchen and learn how to cook!  Last night I tried a new-to-me recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow's, My Father's Daughter. I love both of her cookbooks so much! I also made the lemon parmesan pasta dish last week, as I showed you on Instagram, and it was a huge hit with my family.

Last night I made my very first homemade tomato sauce {and wow, it was good!} Then I followed the recipe for the Penne Puttanesca, but made a few twists of my own to tailor it to my liking. Both recipes are below the pictures.

Tomato Sauce:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves of chopped up garlic
4 large basil leaves
2  28 ounce cans of whole, peeled tomatoes with the juice
Course salt
Freshly ground pepper

Combine the olive oil and garlic in a large saucepan on low heat and allow to cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add 2 of the basil leaves and stir for 1 minute. Finally, add the tomatoes, tomato juice and 2 other basil leaves to the saucepan. Bring to a boil. Salt and pepper to your liking, then reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 45 minutes, stirring and crushing the tomatoes occasionally.

Penne Puttanesca:
3/4 pound penne pasta
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 clothes garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
Pinch of red chile flakes
5 olive oil-packed anchovies (I left these out!)
1 heaping tablespoon salt-packed capers, rinsed
1/2 cup pitted nicoise olives
2 cups basic tomato sauce (recipe for this is above!)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
3 tablespoons pasta water, to thin
1/4 cup torn fresh parsley, for garnish

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salting generously. Drop in pasta and cook according to directions. I like the gluten-free penne from Trader Joe's best!

Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat and add the garlic and chile flakes. Cook about 1 minute while stirring. *If you want to add anchovies, add them now and stir for 1 minute. Add the capers and olives, crushing them gently with the wooden spoon, cooking for 1 minute. Stir in the 2 cups of tomato sauce and black pepper. Turn heat to high, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium for about 10 minutes until thickened. 

*I chose not to add anchovies or olives (and instead added lean ground turkey), so I combined the olive oil and chile flakes and let cook for a minute. Then I added the capers, tomato sauce and a little more black pepper. After cooking the ground turkey, I stirred this in the sauce. Bring everything to a boil, reduce to medium heat and cook for 10 minutes. Once the pasta noodles were fully cooked, I added the 3 tablespoons of pasta cooking water to the sauce to thin. Pour the noodles into the sauce and stir until completely combined. Scatter parsley over the pasta. Top with parmesan cheese (my favorite!)

If you try it, let me know how you like it! This will definitely be a new go-to in our house. It was easy, delicious and a fun twist on the traditional spaghetti. 

Happy Friday! 


  1. This dish looks absolutely delicious!


  2. I love cooking for my boyfriend as well! :) I actually always enjoyed cooking, both for my family and myself, but there's just something about cooking for a special someone, that's especially great! :) Because he's a vegetarian, it also taught me a lot about cooking dishes that I wasn't used that and that has greatly expanded my knowledge as a cook and just my love and passion for food in general. It even turned me into a vegetarian myself! ;) So be careful, you never know what might happen on your cooking journey! ;) The pasta looks super delicious - nothing better than homemade tomato soup!

    I think it's great that your mother is teaching you about food - who better to learn from than the person whose great food you grew up eating? :)

  3. Beautiful photos and even yummier looking food!! xo

  4. This looks so delicious Michaela! I love to cook and experiment with new recipes. I look forward to giving this one a try maybe this weekend.

  5. Oh my goodness! This looks absolutely delicious!

    Your photos are so gorgeous too!


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