Salmon Puttanesca

From by Lisa Grant
Salmon Puttanesca

Salmon Puttanesca Photo

Puttanesca sauce is something I have been making for years. I started out making it to toss with pasta but realized it’s the perfect sauce to serve on fish. I love having it with pasta on the side. Salmon is a hearty fish and this is a healthy comfort food that is perfect for a fall or winter meal. My family eats salmon frequently. We love it smoky and grilled but today I am going to cook it inside and top it with this delicious sauce.

If you speak any Italian, the name of this dish will probably give you a chuckle. “Puttana” in Italian means “lady of the night”.  Puttanesca is a classic southern Italian sauce consisting of tomatoes, olives, capers, garlic, anchovies, and red pepper. It is fragrant and spicy.

So how did the sauce get its name? I’ve heard many stories but this one is my favorite. Back in the day, the Italian women of the evening were only allowed at the grocery stores one day a week. So they stocked up on pantry ingredients and this is what they came up with. It was a cheap, easy meal to make and the ingredients stored in the pantry very well. I am not sure if this is really how the sauce was named but it is the story I go by.

Salmon Puttanesca Picture

Typically I keep some anchovy paste in my kitchen, so instead of using whole anchovies, I can add a few spoons of anchovy paste. It is much easier than chopping anchovies. It is sold in a tube so you can keep the leftovers stored in your refrigerator. It keeps well and there is no need to get anchovies on your hands.

This sauce is very versatile and goes great with fish, chicken, and pork. It is a great way to dress up some plain chicken breasts and any shape of pasta works well. I serve the dish with some homemade rustic bread because no one wants to leave the delicious sauce on their plate.

Try making this dish and it you will want to experiment with different types of fishes. It is easy for a weeknight but the perfect meal to serve to company.  


Salmon Puttanesca Recipe



  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons italian seasoning, with salt
  • 4 salmon filets, about 1 1/2 pounds total
  • 1 jalapeño, cored, seeded, and diced
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic
  • 14 ounces chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons anchovy paste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • pasta, for serving


  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle Italian seasoning on the salmon and put in pan. Cook 3 to 6 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Remove fish from pan; keep warm.
  2. Add jalapeño and garlic to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add tomatoes, capers, olives, wine, and anchovy paste. Sprinkle with parsley. Simmer for 15 minutes or until sauce is thickened.
  3. Return fish to pan and cook until heated through. Serve fish over sauce and with pasta, if desired.


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