Slightly Spicy Pasta Puttanesque-a

Posted by on June 9, 2009 | 12 Comments

Faced with a full pantry and a bare-bones fridge, I had to do some quick thinking for our next meal that we were quickly growing hungry for. Most chefs would mock my version of puttanesca (hence my clever name, don’t you think?), but I still couldn’t think of a better label for this blend of flavors.

True, it lacks the salty anchovies (making it suitable for vegans / vegetarians), and I did allow some leeway on the olives you can use (pitted kalamata olives would be best, but when you only have cheap black ones on hand they will just have to do!), but this is still a nice, flavorful dish that can be dressed up or down, however you like.

Pasta Puttanesque-a

Slightly Spicy Pasta Puttanesque-a
This recipe is Dairy-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, Sugar-Free, Low-Fat, optionally Gluten-Free / Wheat-Free, and optionally Vegan / Vegetarian

  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 2 Teaspoons Crushed Garlic or 4 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 28-ounce Can Diced Tomatoes (no salt added) or 2 lbs of Tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Basil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (more if you like)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt, more or less to taste
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper to taste (optional)
  • 1 Cup Olives, quartered (kalamata and/or green would be best, but my cheapo pantry version just used the black ones I had in the cupboard, and it was still tasty!)
  • 3 Tablespoons Capers, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 Cup Dry White Wine (2-Buck Chuck will do)
  • 8 oz Pasta (I used whole wheat penne, but go gluten-free if needed)

Heat the oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-heat. Add the garlic, and saute for just a minute or two. Add the tomatoes, basil, oregano, crushed red pepper, onion powder, salt, and pepper (if using). Bring the sauce to a boil, promptly reduce the heat and allow it to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. While that is simmering, you can prepare any other additions (see notes below).

Your sauce should have thickened a bit, so now you can add the olives, capers, and wine, and allow it to keep warm over low heat while you prepare the pasta according to the package directions. Once the pasta is ready, dish up!

Optional Additions:

Chicken: I thinly sliced (1/4-inch thick) 1 lb of boneless skinless chicken breasts. I sprinkled them with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon of  salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper (I skipped the black pepper in the sauce). I then drizzled a little bit of wine over the top and stirred to coat the chicken with the cornstarch mixture. From there, I heated about 1 tablespoon of oil in a non-stick skillet, and sauteed the chicken until it was cooked through (no pink!) but still tender. I added the chicken to my sauce just before serving.

Vegetarian-Style: In my opinion, this sauce is just begging for cauliflower. Cook 12 ounces of florets in the sauce, or lightly steam them, layer them atop your pasta, and pour the sauce on.

Yields 4 very flavorful servings

Bloggy Events: I am submitting this post to Presto Pasta Nights! The upcoming event is being hosted by Thyme for Cooking. It is also being submitted to Thrifty Thursdays over at Amanda’s Cookin’.

Comments (12)


  1. Andrea says:

    This is one of our favorite “need something quick to eat” dinners. And I agree with you that cauliflower is a great addition – also zucchini. Great photo!

  2. nora@ffr says:

    yummyyy!!! i love pasta. a must make with chicken and cauliflower 🙂 excellent photography!! nice blog here you have.. enjoyed a lot.. keep it up!!! cheers!!

  3. I certainly wouldn’t mock your puttanesca! The whole point of that sort of dish is that the lady in question (I should probably use the term loosely) is usuing whatever ingredients she can find quickly. I like the cauliflower addition!

  4. Cindy says:

    this looks FAB and just a great way to use up more pantry ing.! I LOVE that your recipes are dairy free…vegan…anything we need!

    i love the cauliflower….sounds so good today!

    what do you think of Rice cheese?

  5. Alison says:

    Looks yummy! I bet it would be good with shrimp too. Or even black beans or chickpeas. It’s a versatile starting place.

  6. pam says:

    I always keep the ingredients for this at hand, for quick and tasty dinners.

  7. jaime says:

    that looks jjust marvelous! i LOVE spicy pasta 🙂

    thanks so much for your kind comments

  8. Michelle says:

    Oh yum! I made homemade sauce VERY similar to that with a few items left out for the grilled pizza I made tonight. I think I may toss in some olives and capers and wine and anchovies and have pasta for dinner tomorrow. I love it!

  9. Vegetation says:

    Mmmm I love puttanesca! This version sounds lovely, I’ll have to give it a try!

  10. That looks delicious! Welcome to Thrifty Thursday!

  11. katie says:

    Mmmmm, looks delicious – you could tuna, also.

  12. Joanne says:

    So here’s my admission – I don’t like anchovies in my puttanesca sauce AND I actually prefer cheap black olives to kalamatas. Am I a bad Italian? Maybe. But would I love this dish? Absolutely.

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