01 May 2012

Risotto puttanesca

I haven’t traveled extensively in Italy, and the few trips that I’ve made have been limited to the more 
touristic spots – Rome, Venice and Capri. I loved all of them though…and this was in no small 
measure because of the wonderful food! One of my favorite Italian dishes that I would always seek 
out was pasta with puttanesca sauce, which is a spicy tomato sauce spiked up with red chili flakes, 
anchovies, black olives and capers. According to my friend Elisabeth over at Food and Thrift Finds
puttanesca was named after the puttanas, or working girls as they say. Legend has it that they were 
so busy with their...um...work...that they never had time to make a proper meal and just threw a 
bunch of things together into a pasta sauce. Puttanesca sauce is thus all about making do with the 
ingredients that you have on hand...now, that's my kind of sauce!

absolutely love all of the things that go into a good puttanesca sauce (save for the anchovies, of 
course). Capers are in particular are an obsession of mine...I can put them into just about anything! 
For the longest time, I'd been thinking about making a risotto (another one of my favorites) with 
puttanesca flavors. I did a quick Google search to see if something like this already existed...and of 
course it did, courtesy of celebrity chef and Italian cuisine guru David Rocco. I adapted his recipe 
very little and was very happy with the results and I'm sure that you will be too if you try it. As an 
added bonus, I made parmesan tuiles for the first time, after being inspired by this video. So quick 
and easy, yet such a nice touch! 

Adapted from David Rocco
Serves 4-6

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
15 black olives, sliced
4 tablespoons capers, drained
1 teaspoon (more or less) red chili flakes
2 cups arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups tomato purée
5 cups vegetable broth
Freshly grated parmesan cheese or parmesan tuiles (see video above), for garnish
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

1. In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is 

2. Add the olives, capers and chili flakes and give everything a nice mix.

3. Stir in the arborio rice and let it toast just a bit. Pour in the wine and stir until it evaporates.

4. Mix in the tomato purée. Cook until the rice is nice and thickened.

5. Stirring constantly, add the vegetable broth about a cup at a time. Keep stirring after each addition 
until the broth is absorbed.

6. Once you've incorporated all the broth, check to make sure that the rice is somewhere between al 
dente and soft (it's a matter of personal preference). Garnish with freshly grated parmesan or 
parmesan tuiles and chopped fresh parsley.

Looking for some other delicious risotto recipes? Try these!


  1. Love this idea! It's such a perfect marriage of two of my favourite Italian dishes, so I know it can't possibly go wrong... I think I know what I'm making next time I'm in a risotto kind of mood. :)

  2. I love that paresan crisp in the center! I know what you mean about capers...I try to think of things to make so I can add capers to it! :) This is a lovely risotto!

  3. This recipe is a very curious, I will have to try it!

  4. What an awesome idea! I love risotto but never had a fiery version :) Yum!

  5. Mmmm this looks divine! I love risotto but have always had trouble with the execution in my own kitchen...either too salty or mushy.

    The flavor combo here sounds so delicious though...I may have to brave it one more time!


  6. This is a fusion done RIGHT! :D

  7. Oooh! I love me some puttanesca sauce. Like you, I'm all about just throwing stuff in there. No fuss, no muss. Yours looks gorgeous! Super flash :)