Weeknight Dinner: One-Pan Tilapia Puttanesca:


I am so excited to share this recipe with you all because it’s one of the easiest, most delicious things that I’ve ever made. A friend made this Puttanesca sauce one time while we were up in Vermont with pasta and it was amazing (scroll to the bottom to see a pic of this sauce with pasta). I watched her make it and then set to re-creating the sauce when I got back. It has taken me 5 tries to perfect this recipe, but ohhhhhh it’s sooooo good!!!

Puttanesca is an Italian sauce that was invented in Naples a long time ago. It is so simple and has basic ingredients that you probably already have lying around the kitchen!

This sauce has a lot of pungent ingredients that give it an amazingly robust and musical flavor. Among the ingredients are anchovies (don’t be scared if you’ve never cooked with them before they’re super easy and add awesome flavor!) olives and capers. I would say that even if you’re not an olive or caper person (I’m not) you will STILL LIKE this recipe. That is how delicious it is. 

Oh, and did I mention it only requires one pot? And can be made in about 30 mins? HELLO weeknight gourmet dinner! Score! 

Better yet, the extra sauce can be reserved and saved in the fridge to be re-heated the next night with more fish or pasta! (See notes below). 

One of my favorite things to do with sauce is cook fish in it. It gives the fish a bunch of flavor and also a really nice buttery texture. It's also a bit lighter than pasta, and tastes amazing when served over rice. 

So whenever I’ve made this recipe, I’ve used tilapia. I like tilapia because it can be a very tender fish when cooked and in this recipe it is soooo tender, soft and flaky. It pretty much just melts in your mouth. It’s amazing. See notes below if you want to experiment with another white fish!

Okay guys, I’m gonna just go ahead and get to the recipe now. Don’t be afraid of the anchovies! You can do it!

One-Pan Tilapia Puttanesca


  • 1 large shallot or small onion (about 1/3 cup)
  • 4 garlic cloves (2-3 tbsp)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • One canister (2 oz) anchovies roughly chopped. (They will pretty much disintegrate when you add them to the hot oil and start stirring)
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes (one big can or box)
  • 1 and ½ cups water
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp dried basil flakes
  • 1 tsp ground oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives roughly sliced
  • 1 and ½ tbsp capers
  • 1 lb Tilapia fish fillet


Finely dice the garlic and shallot. Drain, and roughly chop the anchovies.  Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan (like this) and add the garlic, shallot and anchovies. Toast everything up and stir frequently. Stir the anchovies around with everything until they’ve disintegrated or significantly reduced in size (1-2 mins). Add the crushed tomatoes and water to the pan. Stir. Add in the spices, olives and capers, and stir. Cover it and let it simmer on the stove. Rinse the tilapia fillets (up to 4) with water and sprinkle them with salt and pepper on both sides. Uncover the pan and submerge the fillets in the sauce. Make sure they’re fully covered in sauce. Re-cover the pan and let it simmer until the fish is cooked and flakes with a fork (about 8-10 mins).

Note: At this point, I usually throw on a pot of white rice. It typically takes about 10-15 mins to cook. If you do brown rice, start it at the beginning of making the sauce, as it typically takes longer to cook.

Serve the fish over rice with healthy amounts of sauce. Salt and pepper to taste. If you want to be really fancy, you can add some ribbons of basil to the top and drizzle with some nice olive oil to finish it off.

Bon Appetit!

Notes: if you make with a different type of fish other than tilpia, remember that lots of fish (such as ocean perch) loses water and shrinks when it cooks, so start with 1 cup water for the sauce and go from there if using another white fish)

More Notes: If you’re by yourself, make this sauce with just one tilapia fillet. Save the rest of the sauce in the fridge. Reheat the next day and serve with your favorite pasta (pictured below!) OR re-cook another fish fillet in it!

Puttanesca Sauce with Pasta