Vegan Pasta Puttanesca with Capers

Vegan pasta puttanesca is the same traditional recipe but without anchovies. Instead, capers have been added to provide a saltiness similar to the classic recipe. You can make this easy Mediterranean dinner recipe in less than 20 minutes!

Pasta puttenesca in a Dutch oven and garnished with extra olives, basil and capers.

Pasta Puttanesca is a timeless and straightforward Italian pasta dish that can be prepared with pantry staples in 30 minutes. Whether served warm to comfort you on a chilly day or enjoyed cold during the heat, this pasta is a perfect dinner any day of the week!

Traditional Pasta Puttanesca is made with anchovies, which add a distinct salty flavor. In the vegan version, I skipped the anchovies but still captured the dish’s essence with extra kalamata olives and adding capers.

If you want to make this recipe for a romantic or family dinner, try pairing it with kale crunch salad, homemade easy yeast bread, and finish with the fresh flavors of a vegan lemon tart or a polenta cake.

Pasta cooked and coiled into nests on a plate with basil.

Recipe Snapshot

EASE: Very Easy
CUISINE: Italian
COURSE: Dinner
TIME: 20 Minutes

Ingredients

Ingredients used in making Pasta Puttanesca.
  • Capers: For that unique tang in place of sardines.
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes: Add for a spicy kick.
  • Crushed Tomatoes: Simple, flavorful sauce. All you have to do is open and pour!
  • Fresh Garlic Cloves: You can’t have pasta without garlic, right?
  • Kalamata Olives: These bring a classic Mediterranean flavor.
  • Olive Oil: The base for sautéing. But just a little.
  • Pasta: Your favorite vegan pasta will do just fine!
  • Sun-Dried Tomatoes (Optional): I like to add them for more flavor.
  • Vegan Parmesan (Optional): Sprinkle on top for extra flavor.

Instructions

The number 1 with a circle around it.

Pasta and Sauté

Start the pasta. Then warm the olive oil over low heat. As the oil heats up, you should be able to tilt the pan and cover the bottom with oil. Add the thinly sliced garlic cloves and crushed red pepper flakes and cook for 1-2 minutes.

Sauce simmering.
The number 2 with a circle around it.

Sauce

Add the crushed tomatoes, olives, capers, and sun-dried tomatoes. Simmer over low heat while the noodles cook. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Tossing noodles into tomato sauce.
The number 3 with a circle around it.

Combine and Garnish

Toss everything together and let it cook for another 1- 2 minutes. This way, the pasta soaks up all those amazing flavors. Serve and garnish with vegan parmesan, fresh basil, and extra olives.

Pasta cooked and coiled into nests on a plate with basil.

Personalize This Recipe

  • Cannellini Beans: Add protein, stay plant-based, and celebrate the flavors of Italy by adding a can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed, of course.
  • Zucchini Zoodles: Add spiralized zucchini zoodles for a gluten-free recipe with added vegetables.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this version, traditional anchovies are omitted, making it completely plant-based. Instead, the flavors are derived from olives, capers, and a spicy tomato sauce, ensuring the dish retains its classic Puttanesca charm.

Yes, for the best flavor, make the sauce in advance and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To serve, reheat the sauce and mix it with freshly cooked pasta.

Store any leftover Pasta Puttanesca in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It should keep well for up to 3 days. Reheat it gently on the stove or microwave, adding water if the sauce has thickened.

Pasta puttenesca in a Dutch oven and garnished with extra olives, basil and capers.

Vegan Pasta Puttanesca with Capers

Vegan pasta puttanesca with capers is the same traditional recipe but without anchovies. Instead, capers have been added to provide a saltiness similar to the classic recipe. You can make this easy Mediterranean dinner recipe in less than 20 minutes!
5 from 1 vote
Print Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup kalamata olives
  • ¼ cup capers
  • cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, minced Optional ingredient
  • 1 pound pasta
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • parmesan Optional garnish
  • fresh basil Optional garnish

Instructions

  • Step One – Sauté: Warm the olive oil over low heat. As the oil heats up, you should be able to tilt the pan and cover the bottom with oil easily. Add the thinly sliced garlic cloves and the crushed red pepper flakes and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Step Two – Sauce: Add the crushed tomatoes, olives, capers, and sun-dried tomatoes. Simmer over low heat while the noodles cook. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Step Three – Prepare the Pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook your pasta according to the directions. Stop 1- 2 minutes before the directions on the package.
  • Step Four – Combine and Garnish: Toss everything together and let it cook for another 1- 2 minutes. This way, the pasta soaks up all those amazing flavors. Serve and garnish with vegan parmesan, fresh basil, and extra olives.

Notes

  • Make this recipe gluten-free by using spiralized zucchini or chickpea noodles.
  • Add cannellini beans for protein. 
  • Prepare the sauce and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To serve, reheat the sauce and mix it with freshly cooked pasta.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It should keep well for up to 3 days. Reheat it gently on the stove or microwave, adding water if the sauce has thickened.
 

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Vegan Pasta Puttanesca with Capers
Amount per Serving
Calories
 
130
Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
5
g
8
%
Sodium
 
949
mg
41
%
Carbohydrates
 
21
g
7
%
Fiber
 
5
g
21
%
Sugar
 
12
g
13
%
Protein
 
4
g
8
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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