This vegetarian pasta puttanesca recipe is made with pantry staples in less than 30 minutes! It's made without anchovies but has the same incredible flavor.
This puttanesca pasta is an easy meal to impress your guests. Feels and tastes like a restaurant, but made as quick as fast food!
This post was originally published on October 20, 2016.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Terra's Kitchen. The opinions and text are all mine.
We love Italian food so options are important so we don't have the same meal over and over. While our tomato marinara sauce is a fam favorite, the best and most surprising part, is that our kids love this vegan puttanesca sauce too!
This sauce is filled with amazing flavorbomb ingredients. You'd think by taking a glance that it would be too much, but the ingredients pair perfectly together! The added bonus is how quick and easy it is to throw together.
This is made with some very basic pantry type items, so if you're looking for a pantry recipe, it's a good one!
There are some traditional basic ingredients used in puttanesca sauce, but one of them, anchovies, is not vegan. However anchovies main attribution is the salt they contribute. So it's easy to substitute them.
Since capers have a similar flavor profile, and they already are used in puttanesca, they make a perfect substitute. Simply just use a little more to make up for the loss of anchovies.
Combine them with the other spices and flavors and you get a final product with total awesomeness!
- Crushed tomatoes - san marzano tomatoes are a popular choice, but any will work. Be sure to choose no salt added if needed.
- Garlic - freshly mince your own garlic cloves to get the best flavor, but jarred minced garlic will work in a pinch.
- Fresh parsley - the pop of flavor from the fresh herbs is unmatched! Don't sub for dried herbs if you don't have to. You could also add in some oregano or fresh basil leaves.
- Olives - kalamata olives are best to use, however other varieties such as green or black olives will work too, the taste will just be slightly different.
- Capers - these salty morsels are a staple in the classic recipe and are a must to capture the right taste.
- Seasonings - dried thyme and salt help to round out the overall flavor, and red pepper flakes can be used to add some spice.
- Penne pasta - see below for extra serving suggestions.
- Vegan Parmesan Cheese - this grated cheese is optionally (but highly recommended) sprinkled on top when serving.
How to Make Vegan Puttanesca Sauce
Here are the few steps you need to get this done in under 30 minutes with minimal prep time:
- Combine the tomatoes, garlic, red pepper and salt in a large pot or saucepan with olive oil or vegetable broth and let it simmer over medium heat to thicken.
- Add in the olives, capers, thyme and parsley.
- Toss with the boiled pasta.
This recipe originated from a partnership I did with a meal service called Terra's Kitchen. Unfortunately they are no longer in business but I felt I needed to mention them since it was not my original creation.
What to Serve With Puttanesca Sauce
While al dente penne pasta is the obvious choice here, you can also make spaghetti alla puttanesca or any pasta shape you like, even a gluten-free alternative you love. But you can also serve this on top of many other things! Here are a few things we've tried:
- Spaghetti squash
- Blanched zucchini noodles
- In a veggie lasagna, simple sub this for one of the layers or double it to use as the tomato sauce base
This would also go great with garlic bread and some salad! You can use an actual salad recipe or simply add a side salad tossed with balsamic, sea salt and a drizzle of oil or broth if you are oil free.
Here are some salad recipes to try if you want something a little more involved:
- Lemon Kale Salad
- Watermelon Feta Mint Salad
- Grilled Romaine with Vegan Caesar Dressing
- Avocado Kale Salad
Dress up this dish with extra flavor with these plant based garnishes:
- Parmesan cheese (Just do yourself a favor and always have this on hand!)
- Feta Cheese
- Ricotta Cheese
- Or, drizzle with Creamy Vegan Alfredo Sauce
How to Add Protein
If you want to make this an all encompassing meal and add a serving of protein, there are a few things I would suggest:
- Store bought veggie based sausage.
- These chickpea sausage crumbles.
- Add some white beans to the sauce, you can add canned ones at the end.
- Crumble up some tempeh and add it in with the tomatoes at the beginning to give it an almost bolognese like feel.
There are actually many stories about where this name came from. Some resources say it was first called "alla marinara" and then the name changed after the second World War.
Other sources say it originated in the brothels, which is what the word "puttana" means.
And yet others say it was invented one night when the owner of a restaurant wanted to feed his hungry customers and simply threw together what he had.
Puttanesca sauce has a very salty bold and rich flavor. It combines the saltiness of the olives, capers and anchovies (if you use them) into the tomato sauce to result in the delicious end result.
Yes! Capers are simply flower buds that have been pickled. So they originate from a plant.
Yes! It is made of whole food ingredients and has some great nutritional benefits. The only thing to watch is if you have issues with sodium as it has a higher salt content.
More Vegan Pasta Recipes
If you love Italian food, here are some other delicious plant based recipes to try:
Vegetarian Pasta Puttanesca Recipe
For the pasta:
- 2 cups crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1-3 teaspoons red pepper flakes , optional depending on how spicy you want it
- drizzle oil for sautéing , or broth if oil free
- ½ cup chopped parsley , save 2 tablespoons for garnish
- ¼ cup chopped kalamata olives
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 8 ounces penne pasta , gluten-free if needed or other shape of choice
- Vegan Parmesan Cheese , optional for serving
- Add tomatoes, garlic, red pepper and salt with oil or broth into a pan and simmer 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly.
- Stir in olives, capers, thyme and all but 2 tablespoons parsley (save for garnish).
- Cook 1 more minute or until thoroughly heated.
- Cook pasta according to directions on the box.
- Add pasta to the hot sauce and toss.
- Garnish with parsley and top with Parmesan if desired and serve!
- You can serve this with many things, like spaghetti squash if you don't want to do pasta.
- Parmesan is optional but highly recommended
- Nutrition facts do not include optional items
Recipe by Veggies Don’t Bite, visit our site for more great plant-based recipes.