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This vegan pasta puttanesca is a bit different from the traditional Italian version. This recipe uses ingredients anyone should have in their refrigerator, freezer, or pantry. It’s easy, uses easy-to-find ingredients, and is perfect for entertaining.
The sharp flavors that this classic dish possesses are well represented here in this plant-based version of a dish that typically contains anchovies.
What is Pasta Puttanesca?
It’s a very simple dish that packs a real punch in the flavor department. Some have called it a “study in opposites” because of the opposing, but wonderful flavors. It is made with tomatoes, capers, garlic, olive oil, peppers, and anchovies. (Although, the recipe below does not use anchovies).
Where Is Pasta Puttanesca From?
Pasta Puttanesca was created in Naples, Italy in the mid-1900s. While this is a family-friendly blog, I will share that the word “Puttanesca” derives from a more scandalous word in Italian. I’ll leave you to look it up if you wish. But the theories on how this pasta dish got its name are equally scandalously inclined.
What Does Puttanesca Sauce Taste Like?
It’s spicy and has powerful flavors that aren’t easily ignored. Sharp, savory, umami, spicy and more. It’s truly a flavorful adventure.
While anchovies are a traditional part of this dish and do offer up their own unique flavors, it’s just as delicious without them. This is a plant-based dish, so you’ll be spared that particular trip to the store for that can you probably don’t have in your pantry. You’re welcome!
The Best Tomatoes For Pasta Puttanesca
The best type of tomatoes for Puttanesca sauce are typically going to be either grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes. Any small tomato will get the job done though.
What Goes With Pasta Puttanesca?
While this dish is full of plant-based ingredients, you don’t have to make your whole dinner plant-based if you prefer meat or cheese. You can also round out the meal with a few nice side dishes. Here are some suggestions.
- A side of crusty garlic bread.
- A green salad.
- A bowl of soup.
- A side of chicken or even a steak.
- A filet of fish.
Can You Make Puttanesca Sauce In Advance?
Sure! You can prep just the sauce ingredients up to 3 days in advance if you wish.
Recipe Additions And Variations
If you don’t mind moving away from the more classic recipe and you’d like to experiment with this classic dish, here are some ideas:
- Chili flakes or red pepper flakes – to increase the spiciness
- Red bell peppers – for added veggies
- Red onions – sauté them well. Caramelized work best.
- Black olives – use instead of Kalamata olives to reduce the tanginess.
- Nutritional yeast – You can sprinkle some of this on in place of parmesan cheese.
- Parmesan cheese – If you don’t mind the dairy.
- Miso paste – to add umami and a bit of the flavor that anchovies would provide.
- Fresh basil – because basil always goes with Italian pasta dishes.
- Fresh oregano – because… Italian pasta…
- Seaweed or nori – You can chop this fine to increase the flavor that the anchovies would typically provide.
About The Ingredients
Whole grain pasta – Gluten-free if needed – cooked to package directions. Then drain and set aside. Spaghetti works best here, but you can also use fettuccine.
Olive oil – The better quality your oil is, the better this dish will be overall. Don’t skimp on the cheaper stuff with this recipe. It’s totally worth using the good stuff here.
Garlic cloves – Crushed. You can crush these with the side of a knife pretty easily. You don’t have to pulverize them. Although, you can certainly chop or mince these as well to get more even distribution throughout the pasta.
Grape tomatoes – Cherry tomatoes work too. If you don’t have these, a 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes will work well here too.
Kalamata olives – Make sure you either buy them without pits or remove the pits before cooking this dish.
Capers – Drained.
Fresh parsley – you can use more or less, as you like.
Salt and pepper – To taste.
How Do You Make Vegan Puttanesca Pasta?
Collect and measure all the needed ingredients. Then cook the pasta to package directions.
In a large skillet, warm 1 tbsp. olive oil. Then add the grape tomatoes and garlic cloves. Cook them until the tomatoes burst (see picture for reference). Set them aside.
In a small to medium pan, warm another 1 tbsp. of olive oil. Add in the capers and olives and fry them for a couple of minutes.
To the first large pan (with tomatoes), add the capers, olives, and pasta. Toss well to combine. (if you find the sauce a bit dry, pour a couple of extra tablespoons of olive oil).
Serve topped up with black pepper and freshly chopped parsley. Add salt to taste if needed.
How To Store Vegan Pasta Puttanesca
If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Note that if you made the sauce in advance, you’ll want to include those days in the number of storage days.
You’ll want a couple of good skillets for this recipe as well as some pasta bowls. A pasta pot is a good idea as well. You can click the images here to be taken to those products on Amazon if you need them (Affiliate links)
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Vegan Pasta Puttanesca Recipe
Vegan Pasta Puttanesca
- 10 oz. package pasta (gluten-free if needed – cooked to package directions)
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 large garlic cloves (crushed)
- 2 cups grape tomatoes (cherry tomatoes work too)
- ¾ cup olives (Kalamata olives are best)
- 2 tbsp. capers (drained)
- ½ cup finely chopped, fresh parsley (you can use more or less, as you like)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Collect and measure all the needed ingredients. Then cook the pasta to package directions.
- In a large skillet, warm 1 tbsp. olive oil. Then add the grape tomatoes and garlic cloves. Cook them until the tomatoes burst (see picture for reference). Set them aside.
- In a small to medium pan, warm another 1 tbsp. of olive oil. Add in the capers and olives and fry them for a couple of minutes.
- To the first large pan (with tomatoes), add the capers, olives, and pasta. Toss well to combine. (if you find the sauce a bit dry, pour a couple of extra tablespoons of olive oil).
- Serve topped up with black pepper and freshly chopped parsley. Add salt to taste if needed.