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Chicken Puttanesca, Fast and Flavorful

September 9, 2010

By Kath Dedon


Legend has it that Pasta Puttanesca was invented by prostitutes trying to lure customers in with the aroma of the spicy sauce. Although no one seems to really know the origin of the recipe, most agree that it first became popular around 50 years ago. I used the main ingredients of the sauce to make Chicken Puttanesca, a fast and flavorful way to serve chicken breasts.

My Chicken Puttanesca was adapted from an idea in Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express. The book has 404 ideas for quick recipes. Each one is a short paragraph that gives you general directions. Exact measurements and cooking times are not always given. The book is probably not for beginning cooks who would have too many questions about executing the recipes. As an experienced cook, though, I find a lot of inspiration for quick meals in Kitchen Express.

I made a point of buying anchovies for the recipe. We like anchovies and they add a lot of salty goodness. You can leave them out if you prefer; there will still be a lot of flavor from the other ingredients.

Chicken breasts are often too large. My two boneless, skinless breasts were each a half pound. I sliced them in half lengthwise to make four smaller cutlets. To do this, just put the palm of your hand on top of the breast and then slice it into two pieces with a sharp knife. You’ll have a more reasonably sized chicken cutlet and they will cook more quickly.


Chicken Puttanesca

(Adapted from a recipe in Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express)

(print the recipe)

Serves 4


4 small or 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (Cut large ones in half lengthwise to make 4 smaller cutlets.)

6 olive-oil-packed anchovies, diced

½ – 1 teaspoon of the olive oil from the anchovies

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 medium tomatoes, diced (or 1 can diced tomatoes)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

½ cup chopped black olives

3 tablespoons capers

½ teaspoon crushed red chile flakes


1. If using 2 large chicken breasts, cut them in half lengthwise to make 4 cutlets

2. Heat the olive oil and the oil from the anchovies in a large skillet.

3. Add the chicken and anchovies and cook for about 3 minutes.

4. Turn the chicken and add the tomatoes, garlic, black olives, capers, and chile flakes.


5. Cook until the chicken is thoroughly cooked, about 3 or 4 more minutes.

6. Serve the chicken topped with the sauce.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 9, 2010 4:44 pm

    I love puttanesca sauce! I like how you paired it with the chicken. Great recipe, thanks for the reminder, fall is here and I need to make more dishes like this!

    • September 9, 2010 4:46 pm

      Thanks, Gina! I reheated a piece for lunch today and decided it makes great leftovers, too.

      • Marilyn permalink
        March 23, 2022 11:21 am

        How would you reheat the leftovers?

        • March 29, 2022 9:36 am

          Sometimes I cover it and reheat in the microwave for about 1 minute at 70% power. (#7 on my machine). If I have time, though, I like to cover it in a small oven-proof dish and bake at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes. I use my toaster oven, but you can use your regular oven. Thanks for your question, Marilyn!

  2. September 13, 2010 5:43 am

    What a great recipe and a very nice blog.

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