Lemon Garlic Shrimp Pasta Puttanesca

Lemon Garlic Shrimp Pasta Puttanesca

Lemon Garlic Shrimp Pasta Puttanesca

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca is a classic Italian pasta dish originating from Naples in the mid-20th century. Here’s what you need to know about it:

Key Features:

  • Flavorful Sauce: It’s known for its tangy, salty, and savoury sauce made with tomatoes, olives, capers, anchovies, garlic, and chilli.
  • Simple Ingredients: Made with pantry staples, it’s a quick and easy dish to prepare.
  • Intriguing Name: “Puttanesca” translates to “whore-like” in Italian, leading to many stories about its origins (more on that below).

Typical Ingredients:

  • Spaghetti (or vermicelli)
  • Tomatoes (fresh or canned)
  • Black olives (Gaeta olives are preferred)
  • Capers
  • Anchovies
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Chilli (optional)
lemon garlic shrimp pasta
chopped capers, garlic, parsley, shallots, olives and dried chilli

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Karl Morley
Spaghetti alla Puttanesca is a classic Italian pasta dish originating from Naples in the mid-20th century. 
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Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 1 person


  • Pasta enough for one your choice, linguine, fettuccine, spaghetti
  • 8 large prawns / shrimp 100g
  • 1/2 an inch of dried pepper
  • 8 capers chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 20 g of smoke pancetta
  • 1/4 of a lemon
  • 4 sugar snap pea’s sliced
  • 8 Olives lemon infused if you can get them
  • 1 shallot chopped
  • 20 ml double cream
  • 30 g Parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Small bunch of chopped parsley


  • Pot of water to boil with the lid on which speed up the process.
  • While  the water is boiling I started to cut up the ingredients.
  • Starting with the shallot as this was going into the frying pan first with some olive oil (and maybe a knob of butter) season well cook 3 minutes
  • Place pasta in slated boiling water for 1 minute
  • Then chop a little dried chilli and the garlic and throw that into the pan as the spice will infuse into the shallot.
  • Then cook for 1 minutes
  • Next you want to add the smoked pancetta as the fat will render down and add to the base of the flavour. cook 2 minutes
  • Now add the prawns, olives, sugar snap peas and capers, stir in the frying pan to soak up all the flavours cook 1 minute.
  • When the pasta is cooked add it straight to the frying pan whilst the water is still dripping from the pasta,
  • squeeze the juice from the lemon in at this pint
  • The pasta water helps make the sauce Add the cream and Parmesan cheese cook on high heat for 1 minute and serve
  • Add chopped parsley at the end and stir through


The sugar snap peas can easily be swapped for pea’s (frozen will do) or asparagus or even courgette. If you don’t have smoked pancetta use smoked bacon as its a perfect substitute. No shallots then use onion.


Serving: 225g
Keyword Spaghetti alla Puttanesca
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best basic pasta recipe

Origin Story:

The exact origin of the name is debated, with two main theories:

  • Brothel Story: The most colourful story claims it was invented in brothels of Naples, where cooks whipped up a quick and flavorful dish with readily available ingredients.
  • Culinary Fantasy: Another theory attributes it to the culinary fantasies of the famous Italian actor and comedian Totò.


  • Tuna: Some recipes add tuna for extra protein.
  • Vegetables: Chopped vegetables like onions or zucchini can be included.
  • Spice Level: The amount of chilli can be adjusted to your preference.

Where to find it:

  • Restaurants: Spaghetti alla Puttanesca is a popular dish in Italian restaurants worldwide.
  • Recipes: Numerous recipes are available online and in cookbooks.

Additional Notes:

  • The anchovies dissolve in the sauce, adding an umami flavour without a strong fishy taste.
  • Don’t skip the capers – their salty and briny flavour is essential to the dish.
  • Fresh parsley is often used as a finishing touch for freshness.

 Spaghetti alla Puttanesca is a delicious, versatile pasta dish perfect for a quick and flavorful meal.

More Italian Recipes

If you want a truly classic Italian sauce for your pasta dishes then give these a go. The Bolognese meat sauce or the classic Italian Ragu.