Puttanesca is one of my favorite pasta sauces, and this vegetarian puttanesca is no exception. My love runs deep because I’m seriously smitten with olives and capers, both of which are featured heavily in this pungent tomato-based sauce.

This Vegetarian Puttanesca is also really easy to make – another bonus. And, also, it’s the perfect pantry recipe.

Two bowls of vegetarian pasta alla puttanesca

Is Puttanesca Vegetarian?

When I first started eating vegetarian, I considered puttanesca sauce a safe bet on restaurant menus. Imagine my surprise when I realized later on that in addition to olives and capers, another reason for its umami goodness was anchovies. Whoops! Definitely not vegetarian.

For the last several years, one of my goals in life (yep, it’s true) was to create a tasty puttanesca sauce recipe without anchovies. I’ve tried countless iterations, and it was always almost right, but not 100% right. Until this one!

A bowl of vegetarian puttanesca with two forks.

Vegetarian Puttanesca Ingredients

For this vegetarian puttanesca, we’ve got:

  • Lots of garlic
  • Oregano
  • Crushed tomatoes – cooked down for maximum intensity
  • Loads of kalamata olives and capers
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes for just a smidge of heat
  • And a dash of soy sauce. Yep – soy sauce. It’s all about heightening that umami experience without the anchovies. And it totally works here.
Ingredients for vegetarian puttanesca.

(Just pretend you see garlic in this shot. And salt. And olive oil. But otherwise, these are the ingredients you need.)

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca is a popular version of pasta puttanesca, made with – you guessed it – spaghetti. I also love this sauce with farfelle (bow tie pasta), penne, and rotini. But I think it will work with just about any pasta.

Vegetarian puttanesca sauce being stirred and thickened in a pan
A plate with vegetarian pasta alla puttanesca.

So there you have it – Vegetarian Puttanesca with no anchovies in sight! I hope you love this one as much as we do. If you do, please come back and leave a rating! (Or even if you don’t like it, please come back and leave a rating too – the feedback is important and helps me make the best recipes I can!)

More Hearty Vegetarian Pasta Recipes

5 from 2 votes

Vegetarian Puttanesca

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Author: Kare
Yield: 3
Rich with with garlic, kalamata olives, and capers, this piquant, concentrated sauce is a serious fave around here. Serve with whatever pasta you happen to have on hand!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium cloves garlic (peeled and sliced thin)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt + more to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper + more to taste
  • 1/2 cup halved and pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons capers (drained)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes (more or less, to taste)

For serving:

  • 8 ounces of your favorite pasta such as spaghetti (penne, farfalle (bow tie), or rotini)
  • A small handful of minced fresh parsley

Instructions

  • Before you start the sauce, set a large pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil so you can cook your pasta (according to package directions) at the same time you’re working on your sauce.
  • Set a large sauté pan over low heat. When hot, add the olive oil. When the olive oil is hot, add the garlic and oregano. Cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is just starting to turn golden (but not brown, this will make it bitter) – 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper. Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have cooked down and the liquid has mostly dissipated, about 10 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to low and add olives, capers, soy sauce or tamari, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring, for another minute until the olives are heated through. Taste and add more salt, pepper, or red pepper flakes if desired.
  • Drain pasta and add pasta to the pan along with the sauce. Toss well until evenly distributed.
  • Scoop into bowls or onto plates, sprinkle with fresh parsley if desired, and serve.

Notes

Gluten-free option

Use Tamari instead of soy sauce and serve with your favorite gluten-free pasta for a fully GF version.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 406kcal, Carbohydrates: 59g, Protein: 11g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 9g, Sodium: 937mg, Potassium: 211mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 103IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 42mg, Iron: 2mg
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