How to Make Pasta & Meatballs with Puttanesca Sauce

A Recipe for Italian Pasta Puttanesca with Meatballs

Do you have a favourite simple and balanced meal? One that you can create (practically in your sleep) with no recipe, using mainly store-cupboard ingredients at home?! Mine is pasta and meatballs with a simple Puttanesca sauce.

Italian pasta Puttanesca with meatballs is a balanced meal that our whole family enjoys and the sauce is another level of tasty.

Serve it with pasta and a side salad or whatever vegetable you have to hand — and meatballs made from fresh, lean minced beef — and you’re onto a real winner!

Simple Puttanesca Sauce with pasta and meatballs recipe
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

What is in Italian Puttanesca Sauce?

To all intents and purposes, Italian Puttanesca is just a standard tomato sauce; tomatoes, onions, garlic etc. But the (not so) secret ingredients of anchovies, olives and capers elevate Puttanesca Sauce to something really special.

It’s absolutely delicious.

I can’t remember the first time I had a homemade Puttanesca sauce; it might have been a Jamie Oliver one — or Nigella — but I do remember that I absolutely loved it.

Plain old tomato sauce will never be the same once you’ve tried it!

What to Pair with Pasta Puttanesca?

Deep and full of flavour, Italian Puttanesca is an absolute knockout — especially when teamed with spaghetti and fresh meatballs.

Or you can pair it with a simple green salad. Served with a lemony vinaigrette which provides a refreshing contrast to the richness of the Pasta Puttanesca.

Being able to cook something really tasty, from scratch — quickly and easily — is always gratifying. But when it’s something healthy that the whole family enjoys, it’s a real joy.

Particularly when it requires very little effort to make but is always really well received. This Puttanesca recipe is so easy, I can cook it with my eyes closed.

I have a handful of family favourites that I really enjoy cooking; Lentil and Bacon Soup, Bolognese, Sticky Glazed Chicken Drumsticks, Beef Chilli plus — the one I’m going to share here today — pasta and meatballs with a simple Puttanesca sauce.

This Puttanesca sauce with meatballs recipe is a real crowd pleaser; made with lean minced beef and basic pantry-cupboard ingredients, it’s my twins’ ultimate favourite simple balanced meal and it’s so easy, they can even help me make it! 

Pasta & Meatballs with a Simple Puttanesca Sauce Recipe
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

Pasta & Meatballs with a Simple Puttanesca Sauce

Serves 6
(we’re a family of 4 so I save a couple of portions of the sauce for later in the week)

You will need (all items are changeable depending what you have in!):
Olive oil (you can also use cooking oil spray if you prefer)
5 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
6 anchovy fillets, finely chopped (or you can use a teaspoon of anchovy paste instead)
1 x 400g can of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato purée
A small jar of pitted black olives — either 90g-120g (whatever’s available!)
2 tbsp capers
Lean beef mince — around 500g
Dried (or fresh) spaghetti — approx 56g per person
A little salt and pepper
A handful of finely chopped fresh parsley — to serve

A recipe for homemade Italian Pasta Puttanesca with meatballs.
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.
A recipe for homemade Italian Pasta Puttanesca with meatballs.
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.
Method:

1. Heat a nice big glug (a couple of tbsp) of olive oil in a large pan, then throw in the garlic and onions.

A recipe for homemade Italian Pasta Puttanesca with meatballs.
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.
A recipe for homemade Italian Pasta Puttanesca with meatballs.
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

2. When they’re starting to change colour, add the anchovies and give it all a stir.

3. Next add the tin of tomatoes and a couple of spoonfuls of tomato purée, followed by the olives and capers.

Pasta & Meatballs with a Simple Puttanesca Sauce Recipe
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

4. Pop the lid on and simmer.

A recipe for homemade Italian Pasta Puttanesca with meatballs.
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

5. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Cook the spaghetti according to the pack instructions.

A recipe for homemade Italian Pasta Puttanesca with meatballs.
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

6. Meanwhile, form your lean minced beef into little balls. I usually make mine just a bit smaller than a golf ball.

A recipe for homemade Italian Pasta Puttanesca with meatballs.
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

I generally add a little salt and pepper first, then give it all a stir. Then split into around 12 little equal amounts, before forming into little balls in the palm of my hand.

A recipe for homemade Italian Pasta Puttanesca with meatballs.
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

7. Heat up a frying pan — give it a spritz with cooking oil spray (or wipe over with a little olive oil) — then pop in the meatballs.

As they start to colour on the outside, turn them over until they’re lovely dark golden shade all over. Take off the heat.

A recipe for homemade Italian Pasta Puttanesca with meatballs.
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

8. You can either pop them straight into the simmering sauce at this point, or — if you have children like mine, who don’t like little bits of onion — use a blender stick to blitz the Puttanesca Sauce.

I love doing this as it makes the sauce look really smooth and glossy.

A recipe for homemade Italian Pasta Puttanesca with meatballs.
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

9. Once you’re happy with the consistency, throw in the partially cooked meatballs and let them simmer in the sauce for about 5 minutes, or until cooked through

10. Finally, drain the pasta, serve with the meatballs in Puttanesca sauce, then finish with the chopped parsley (or leave out if you don’t have any — this is really just for garnish!).

A recipe for homemade Italian Pasta Puttanesca with meatballs.
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.
A recipe for homemade Italian Pasta Puttanesca with meatballs.
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

Serve the Italian Pasta Puttanesca with the meatballs and bask in the glory and adoration of your family, who think you’re the best cook on the planet!

A recipe for homemade Italian Pasta Puttanesca with meatballs.
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.
A recipe for homemade Italian Pasta Puttanesca with meatballs.
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.
recipe for Pasta & Meatballs with a Simple Puttanesca Sauce

Pasta & Meatballs with a Simple Puttanesca Sauce

Yield: Serves 4/6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

A really easy recipe for Pasta & Meatballs with a Simple Puttanesca Sauce.

Ingredients

  • Olive oil (can also use cooking oil spray)
  • 5 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 
1 medium onion, chopped
  • 
6 anchovy fillets, finely chopped (can use a teaspoon of anchovy paste instead)

  • 1 x 400g can of chopped tomatoes

  • 2 tbsp tomato purée

  • A small jar of pitted black olives — either 90g-120g (whatever's available!)

  • 2 tbsp capers

  • Lean beef mince — around 500g
  • Dried spaghetti — approx 56g per person

  • A little salt and pepper
  • A handful of finely chopped fresh parsley — to serve

Instructions

    1. Heat a nice big glug (a couple of tbsp) of olive oil in a large pan, then throw in the garlic and onions.

    2. When they're starting to change colour, add the anchovies and give it all a stir.

    3. Next add the tin of tomatoes and a couple of spoonfuls of tomato purée, followed by the olives and capers.

    4. Pop the lid on and simmer.

    5. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Cook the spaghetti according to the pack instructions.

    6. Meanwhile, form your lean minced beef into little balls. I usually make mine just a bit smaller than a golf ball.

    I generally add a little salt and pepper first, then give it all a stir. Then split into around 12 little equal amounts, before forming into little balls in the palm of my hand.

    7. Heat up a frying pan — give it a spritz with cooking oil spray (or wipe over with a little olive oil) — then pop in the meatballs.

    As they start to colour on the outside, turn them over until they are lovely dark golden shade all over. Take off the heat.

    8. You can either pop them straight into the simmering sauce at this point, or — if you have children like mine, who don't like little bits of onion — use a blender stick to blitz the Puttanesca Sauce.

    I love doing this as it makes the sauce look really smooth and glossy.

    9. Once you're happy with the consistency, throw in the partially cooked meatballs and let them simmer in the sauce for about 5 minutes or until cooked through.

    10. Finally, drain the pasta, serve with the meatballs in Puttanesca sauce, then finish with the chopped parsley (or leave out if you don't have any — this is really just for garnish!).

    Serve and enjoy!

Notes

Remember to keep jars of olives, capers and anchovies in the store-cupboard! These ingredients take a regular tomato sauce and elevate it into something special.

Easy swaps if you don’t have all the ingredients

Some of these ingredients can be swapped, or even left out, if you don’t have them. For example, if you don’t have capers just make the recipe without. If you don’t have anchovy fillets, you can use anchovy paste, Worcestershire sauce (it actually contains anchovies!), Asian fish sauce or shrimp paste can be used.

Nutrition Information
Yield 4/6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 385Total Fat 17gSaturated Fat 5gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 116mgSodium 746mgCarbohydrates 16gFiber 4gSugar 4gProtein 41g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix

Caro Davies editor of The Listed Home
 | Website

Caro Davies is a former art-director turned writer and content-creator, and editor behind UK lifestyle blog The Listed Home. She writes about home-related topics, from interiors and DIY to food and craft. The Listed Home has been featured in various publications, including Ideal Home, Grazia, and Homes & Antiques magazines.

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12 thoughts on “How to Make Pasta & Meatballs with Puttanesca Sauce”

  1. This is are really interesting dish with lots of different flavours I wouldn’t have thought to put together. Thanks for sharing and will give this a go.

    Reply
    • It’s amazing how the addition of just three ingredients can make a plain tomato sauce so special :) Although — I tend to use anchovies in everything! It’s definitely my umami ingredient!

      Reply

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