Pasta Puttanesca | A Series of Unfortunate Events Inspired Recipe

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pasta putanesca recipe from series of unfortunate events

What’s Up, Hungry People

Anyone else binge through A Series of Unfortunate Events this past weekend? I certainly found myself eagerly awaiting the show, particularly since Neil Patrick Harris was announced as the notorious Count Olaf – a role he absolutely nails, in my opinion.

A Series of Unfortunate Events is essentially the rollercoaster tale of the Baudelaire siblings – Violet, Klaus, and Sunny – whose lives take a nosedive into the world of the bizarre and unfortunate after they’re orphaned. Their distant relative, the notoriously wicked Count Olaf, becomes their guardian, but it’s clear he’s only after the massive fortune their parents left behind. It’s like watching a gothic soap opera, but with kids at the helm, outsmarting adults at every turn.

Each book in the series (there are 13 of them!) is a new twist in the Baudelaires’ saga, filled with dark humor and the kind of wacky, perilous situations that make you go, “Seriously? What now?” The children, armed with Violet’s inventiveness, Klaus’s brains, and Sunny’s… well, sharp teeth, constantly find themselves thwarting Count Olaf’s ridiculous schemes.

And let’s not forget the mysterious V.F.D., a secret society that seems to tie everything together. The author, Lemony Snicket (a.k.a. Daniel Handler), has this quirky way of pulling you into the story, often breaking the fourth wall as if saying, “Can you believe this is happening?” It’s dark, it’s funny, and it’s definitely not your average children’s book series.

The Netflix series, rich in dark humor and intriguing plot twists, features a scene where the Baudelaire orphans, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, are tasked with preparing a meal for the conniving Count Olaf. They choose pasta puttanesca, a dish with an initially off-putting mix of ingredients, but one that surprisingly turns into a delectable feast.

“‘Puttanesca.’ It’s an Italian sauce for pasta. All we need to do is sauté olives, capers, anchovies, garlic, chopped parsley, and tomatoes together in a pot, and prepare spaghetti to go with it.”

— Klaus Baudelaire, Chap. 3, The Bad Beginning

In the show, despite Count Olaf’s abrupt and unreasonable demand for roast beef, his unsavory henchmen couldn’t resist the allure of the pasta puttanesca prepared by the Baudelaires. This scene not only adds a touch of irony and humor to the narrative but also showcases the resourcefulness and resilience of the Baudelaire children under challenging circumstances.

Here’s What You Need:

  • Pasta noodles: Provide the base and structure for the dish.
  • Reserved pasta water: Adds starch, helps sauce cling to pasta.
  • Olive oil: Used for sautéing, adds richness and flavor.
  • Anchovy fillets: Offer a deep, umami flavor.
  • Garlic: Adds aromatic depth and flavor to the sauce.
  • Kalamata olives: Bring a salty, briny element.
  • Tomato: Adds freshness and a slight acidity to the sauce.
  • Capers: Introduce a tangy, slightly floral note.
  • Red pepper flakes: Give a kick of heat.
  • Fresh parsley: Provides a fresh, herbaceous touch.
  • Fresh basil: Adds sweet, aromatic notes.
  • Salt & pepper: For seasoning and enhancing overall flavors.
  • Grated Parmesan cheese: Offers a salty, nutty finish when garnished.
series of unfortunate events pasta putanesca scene

Let’s Cook!

First things first, grab your favorite pasta noodles – anything goes, really, but something long and thin works best. Get a pot of water boiling and cook those noodles just how you like them. Remember, we’re going for ‘al dente’ here – firm to the bite. Oh, and don’t forget to save a quarter cup of that starchy pasta water for later; it’s going to work some magic in our sauce.

Creating the Flavor Base

While the pasta is doing its thing, let’s start on that flavor-packed sauce. Heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan. Once it’s shimmering and hot, throw in your chopped anchovy fillets. This is where things get aromatic! Stir those little fish around until they practically dissolve into the oil – it takes about 2-3 minutes.

Building the Sauce

Next up, it’s time for garlic’s grand entrance. Toss it into the pan and let it sizzle until it’s just fragrant. Now, in go the kalamata olives and capers. Give everything a good stir. Feeling the aroma yet? Next, the diced tomatoes join the party. Let all these ingredients mingle and simmer together. This is where the magic happens!

Seasoning and Finishing Touches

It’s seasoning time! Sprinkle in some salt and pepper, but remember, anchovies and capers are already quite salty, so go easy with the salt. Now, for a fresh twist, add your chopped fresh basil and parsley. Let the sauce simmer for another five minutes or so, until it’s reduced a bit and looks utterly inviting.

Combining Pasta and Sauce

Almost there! Pour that reserved pasta water into the sauce – it’s going to help the sauce cling to the noodles like a dream. Now, add your cooked pasta directly into the sauce. Give it a good toss, making sure every strand of pasta is lovingly coated in that savory, fragrant sauce.

Ready to Serve

Dish it out and garnish with a generous sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese, and why not a little more fresh parsley and basil? There you go, a plateful of pasta puttanesca, rich in flavors and ready to impress. It’s a dish that’s as adventurous and resilient as the Baudelaire orphans themselves – simple ingredients coming together to create something truly special.

Perfecting Pasta Puttanesca: Tips and Tricks:

  • Choosing the Right Pasta: Opt for long, thin pasta like spaghetti or linguine. They pair well with the chunky puttanesca sauce, allowing the sauce to coat each strand evenly.
  • Balancing Flavors: If the sauce tastes too salty due to the anchovies and capers, balance it out with a pinch of sugar or a splash of lemon juice. It’s all about finding the right balance between salty, tangy, and sweet.
  • Sauce Consistency: If the sauce seems too thick, add a bit more of the reserved pasta water to thin it out. The starch in the water helps to create a smooth, clinging sauce.
  • Fresh vs. Dried Herbs: While fresh herbs are preferred for their bright flavor, in a pinch, you can use dried herbs. Just remember that dried herbs are more potent, so use them sparingly.
  • Garlic Browning: Be careful not to burn the garlic when sautéing. Burnt garlic can turn bitter, impacting the overall taste of the dish.
  • Anchovy Alternative: If you’re not a fan of anchovies, you can substitute them with a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce to mimic the umami flavor.

As you savor each bite of this pasta puttanesca, let your taste buds dance to the melody of flavors – the tangy capers, the rich olives, the savory anchovies, all coming together in perfect harmony. It’s a dish that’s simple yet sophisticated, a testament to the Baudelaire orphans’ resourcefulness in A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Just like them, you’ve navigated through the complexities of this recipe, emerging victorious with a plateful of deliciousness. Enjoy your meal, and remember, even in the darkest of tales, there’s always room for a bit of unexpected culinary delight!

pinterest pastaputtanesca

Pasta Puttanesca | A Series of Unfortunate Events Inspired Recipe

The Starving Chef
Experience the bold and savory flavors of pasta puttanesca, inspired by A Series of Unfortunate Events.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Copycat Recipes, Fictional Feasts
Cuisine Italian, Pasta
Servings 4


  • 16 oz pasta noodles of choice
  • ¼ cup reserved pasta water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 anchovy filets chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 tablespoons kalamata olives chopped
  • 2 cups tomato diced
  • 3 tablespoons capers
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese shredded, for topping as desired


  • Prepare the noodles according to the instructions on the box. Reserve ¼ cup of the water used to boil the pasta when the pasta is cooked al dente.
  • In a large pan over medium heat, add two tablespoons of olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add the chopped anchovies and stir until the anchovies have practically melted into the hot oil, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the minced garlic to the pan and sauté until fragrant. Then, add the kalamata olives and capers. Stir to combine, then pour in the diced tomatoes. Bring the sauce to a simmer.
  • Season the sauce with salt, pepper, fresh basil, and fresh parsley. Simmer for about five more minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated from the pan.
  • Pour in ¼ cup of the hot water reserved from cooking the pasta, then add the pasta to the dish. Stir the pasta into the sauce and heat through.
  • Serve garnished with grated Parmesan and more fresh parsley and basil. Have a miserable evening!


Keyword capers, noodles, olives, pasta, tomato
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