Italian Spaghetti Puttanesca! An iconic Italian pasta dish with tomato sauce, olives, and capers! *This puttanesca recipe is cooked without anchovies and is therefore vegan.
Spaghetti alla Puttanesca, literally translated as “whore style” spaghetti, is a classic Italian pasta dish. The origin of the name remains unclear. However, the most common (or popular…? 😉) explanation so far is that prostitutes in the 1950s in southern Italy are said to have cooked this pasta between “appointments” because it is so quick and easy to prepare. Or perhaps because the convincing smell attracted potential customers from the streets 😉.
Delicious, the dish certainly is. And doubtfully, this vegan Puttanesca sauce is cooked in no time with pantry staples.
Puttanesca sauce is a type of tomato sauce that is enhanced with olives, capers, and anchovy fillets. But in this recipe, you’ll learn how to cook a vegan Spaghetti alla Puttanesca – without anchovies!
To still provide that umami flavor, anchovy fillets are replaced with a teaspoon of miso paste. However, it is not mandatory to use miso paste. So if you don’t have any at home, you don’t have to buy a jar of it just for this dish. Instead, simply season the sauce with a little more salt or a pinch of nutritional yeast!
Otherwise, the olives and capers already provide enough flavor!
See recipe card for quantities.
- Spaghetti → For gluten-free puttanesca, use gluten-free pasta (I love Barillas’s gluten-free spaghetti).
- Tomato Passata → Use a high-quality tomato passata (I love the one from Mutti – this tastes very aromatic and intense). It can be replaced by chopped or whole canned, but it makes the sauce less intense.
- Olives → It tastes best with high-quality Kalamata olives, which give the sauce a beautiful salty note. Go for pitted olives to make your life easier. 😉
- Capers → Capers simply belong in a Pasta Puttanesca!
- Miso Paste (optional) → The vegan umami substitute for anchovies. Optional, as you don’t have to buy a jar of miso paste extra for a serving of pasta. Otherwise, season with a little more salt or stir some yeast flakes into the sauce!
- Garlic → Provides flavor!
- Red Chili Flakes (optional) → Adds a wonderful mild spice! 😉
- Olive Oil → go for a high-quality extra virgin olive oil!
- Basil & Oregano → These two herbs simply belong in an Italian pasta dish!
This visual step-by-step instruction will help you along the way – definitely recommended if you’re a cooking beginner! The exact quantities and everything else you need to know for the recipe can be found in the recipe card below.
- Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salt water until al dente. Drain over a sieve.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat with olive oil. Add garlic, olives, capers, and chili flakes, sauté for 3 minutes until fragrant.
- Stir in tomato passata and dried oregano.
- Let it simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with miso paste, salt, and black pepper.
- Add drained pasta to the sauce and toss for one minute. Sprinkle with fresh basil and, if you like, this vegan parmesan cheese.
Hint: If the sauce thickens too much, add some pasta water.
Store cooked spaghetti in an airtight container in the fridge. Good for 3 days. Reheat in a skillet with some water or in the microwave.
I don’t recommend freezing the noodles!