The characteristic ingredients of spaghetti alla puttanesca, a classic Italian pasta recipe, are briny olives and capers. Naturally plant-based, it also features fresh tomatoes, bell peppers, and wine.
This Neapolitan recipe, named for ladies of the night, is simple yet luscious. Use pitted olives to ease preparation. You can use a combination of black and green olives.
Another traditional ingredient in this recipe is anchovies, but we omit that here of course, since this is a vegan site.
What to serve with Spaghetti alla Puttanesca
For a simple meal, serve another Italian classic, Easy Sautéed Broccoli Rabe with Garlic and Pine Nuts, or make it even easier with some steamed broccoli or broccolini. Add a salad of mixed greens or dark green lettuce leaves, chickpeas or red beans, crisp cucumber, and carrots.
For a heartier meal, start with a first course of Escarole Soup with White Beans and Potatoes and some crusty whole-grain bread to soak up the delicious flavors. Accompany the pasta dish with a simple salad of mixed greens, tiny orange sections, and toasted almonds.
What are capers?
Capers come from, not surprisingly, the caper bush, which is native to Spain, Italy, and Morocco, among other countries. It’s the tiny, unripe, green flower bud of the plant, and is brined to give it a burst of salty flavor that you might compare to pickles.
Yet there’s something unique about its flavor that can’t be compared with anything else. Some people are caper-crazy, yet they’re not everyone’s cup of tea. While they are a characteristic ingredient in puttanesca, feel free to skip them if you’re in the latter camp — the dish will still be packed with flavor.
Learn more than you ever wanted to know about capers.
Recipe is from Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas.
- Find lots more delectable vegan Italian recipes.
- Here’s another take on this classic: Pasta Puttanesca with Vegan Meatballs
- 16 ounces spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into narrow strips
- 2 to 2½ cups halved cherry tomatoes or diced ripe tomatoes
- 28-ounce jar good-quality meatless marinara sauce
- 1 cup pitted brine-cured olives, cut in half (black, green, or a combination)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons capers
- 1/4 cup dry white or red wine
- 1/4 cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes, oil-cured or not, optional
- 1/4 chopped minced fresh parsley, or more, to taste
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Dried hot red pepper flakes to taste
- Cook the pasta according to package directions in plenty of rapidly simmering water until al dente, then drain.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and bell pepper, and sauté until over medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the garlic is golden.
- Add the tomatoes, sauce, olives, capers, wine, and optional dried tomatoes capers. Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring to a simmer, then simmer gently, uncovered, for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Combine the cooked pasta with the olive sauce in a serving container. Add the parsley, season with salt and pepper, and toss well. Serve at once.
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