Vegan Puttanesca

Vegan puttanesca is a super simple pasta dish with strong, delicious flavours. If you’re looking for something quick and dirty to serve for dinner tonight, this is it!

Vegan puttanesca served in a bowl.

I love interesting pasta dishes that go beyond just tomato and basil yet are still simple and quick to prepare (see my Sicilian Almond Tomato Pesto pasta). This veganized spaghetti puttanesa fits the bill!

It starts with a basic tomato base but then gets funky with the addition of spice, saltiness and acidity, with a good measure of garlic thrown in because, well, it’s garlic.

As someone who is known to stir sambal oelek into my pasta, it’s obvious that my favourite part of vegan puttanesa is the red chili flakes. I add enough to make my mouth burn but feel free to adjust to your tolerance!

Black olive in a white bowl.

You’ll want to get good quality tomatoes to make the base of the sauce. If it’s summertime, and especially if you’ve got a garden, it’s worth it to chop up some fresh Roma tomatoes when they’re in season.

My tomato plants aren’t ready yet so the next best option is to use canned tomatoes. Personally, I like to use whole tomatoes rather than diced so that I can break them up into large-ish chunks just how I like.

Next up are the olives and capers. I also recommend not skimping on the quality of the olives. Try to get a nice Mediterranean variety from the bulk bins.

Capers in a white bowl.

Those pitiful canned black olives that you normally put on nachos and pizza just don’t have the right brininess for a dish like this that requires strong flavours.

Now, some recipe creators like to try to replicate the flavour of the anchovies that you often find in non-vegan puttanesca recipes. I tried adding miso paste and sprinkling over some dulse flakes but to be honest the flavour wasn’t very pronounced and it didn’t seem to be worth it.

Vegan puttanesca in a bowl with a fork.

I think that if you choose good quality tomatoes and olives, a generous helping of minced garlic, a handful of fresh herbs, and aren’t afraid of turning up the spice, this vegan puttanesca recipe is perfect just how it is!

Wanna see how easy it is to make this vegan puttanesca? Watch the video:

Vegan puttanesca served in a bowl.

Vegan Puttanesca

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Vegan puttanesa is a super simple pasta dish with strong, delicious flavours. If you’re looking for something quick and dirty to serve for dinner tonight, this is it!


  • 250 grams (9 oz) pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes (adjust to taste)
  • 1 large can (425 grams / 15 oz) whole tomatoes
  • ¼ packed cup (60 grams) good quality chopped black olives
  • 4 tablespoons chopped capers
  • A handful of fresh chopped herbs (I used a mix of oregano and basil)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Put salted water on to boil for the pasta.
  2. Heat a wide pan over medium-high heat and add the oil and onion. Fry, stirring occasionally, until soft and transparent then add the garlic and red chili flakes. Fry, stirring, for 30 seconds more or until soft and fragrant.
  3. Add the tomatoes, breaking them into chunks with your spoon, the olives and capers. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.
  4. When the water for the pasta boils, add the pasta but undercook it by about a minute (it will continue cooking in the sauce).
  5. Transfer the slightly undercooked pasta to the pan with the sauce, reserving some of the pasta water. Allow the pasta to finish cooking to al dente, adding pasta water by the tablespoon as needed to keep it cooking.
  6. When the pasta is cooked to al dente, remove the pan from the heat and stir through the herbs and salt and pepper to taste.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 241Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 549mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 6gSugar: 2gProtein: 6g

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