Pasta Puttenesca

Oh this is SO good!!!! This puttanesca sauce is full of flavor and super duper delicious – honestly I ate a HUGE bowl and then went back for more.  I think it’s easy to get into a pasta rut, you know, no time, very hungry and need to get dinner on the table really fast – boil up some pasta and open a jar of sauce and you’re done. Without much more time or effort you can transform a blah dish into a WOW dish. Bumping up the flavor with capers, red pepper flakes, olives and lots of fresh herbs makes a HUGE difference. Caramelizing some onions and adding some balsamic vinegar doesn’t hurt either.

herbs and garlic

The traditional puttanesca sauce includes anchovies but I’ve left them out as no one in my family likes them. If you did want to use them just mash a few up and add them after you’ve caramelized the onions before you add the tomatoes. I use canned tomatoes for this rather than fresh and I love the San Marzano brand, I think the whole tomatoes are best here rather than the crushed, just bash them around a little so they start to melt into the sauce. If the sauce is too light or dare I say watery, you may want to add a tablespoon of tomato paste, you’ll get an even richer taste as well as thickening the whole thing up a little – YUM.

san marzano tomatoes


Pasta Puttanesca

Quick and easy weeknight pasta

  • Author: The Well Fed Yogi
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 23 tablespoons vegetables stock
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons capers
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 810 black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1, 24oz good quality can tomatoes OR your favorite tomato sauce (Rao’s is fantastic)
  • 1 teaspoon or so of tomato paste if needed
  • Black pepper
  • Fresh basil or oregano or both
  • Box of your favorite pasta


  1. Heat the vegetable stock and add the onion and cook on a low heat until translucent, this can take about 10 minutes. When the onions are just turning color add the balsamic vinegar and stir well. Allow to bubble away for a few minutes.
  2. Add the capers and allow to bubble away for a minute or two, then add the garlic, olives and red pepper flakes. Stir well.
  3. Add the tomatoes and stir well, break up the tomatoes with your wooden spoon. Allow the mixture to simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes. If the sauce is too thin add the tomato paste to thicken it up.
  4. In the meantime heat the water for the pasta and cook according to the package directions. When ready drain the pasta, place in a large serving dish and pour the puttanesca sauce on top. Toss well, add plenty of fresh oregano or basil a sprinkling of parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper.

Keywords: vegan pasta

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Honestly this is such a quick, (especially if you leave out the caramelized onions) easy and delicious meal. I come back to it time and time again when there’s nothing in the cupboard except pasta, tomatoes, capers and olives!

Pasta Puttenesca

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