Capers and Olives Vegan Pasta Puttanesca

Vegan pasta puttanesca with capers and olives

The Spruce

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Total: 15 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
177 Calories
6g Fat
27g Carbs
5g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 177
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 8%
Saturated Fat 1g 4%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 487mg 21%
Total Carbohydrate 27g 10%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 10mg 52%
Calcium 52mg 4%
Iron 2mg 14%
Potassium 335mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

While there's no clear history of the origin of pasta puttanesca, every version of the story points to Naples as its place of origin. Wasn't inventing pizza enough for this beautiful port city? It can claim this extraordinary recipe, too, so fresh and simple that it's impossible not to fall in love with it. Known locally as aulive e chiapparielle, or olives and capers, the recipe also includes tomatoes, red chili flakes, and fresh basil to concoct a deliciously briny and boldly flavored sauce that coats pasta to perfection. Usually served with linguini or vermicelli, the sauce works well with spaghetti, too, and short pasta pairs with the sauce just fine if that's what you have at hand. In true Italian tradition, this pasta is not served with cheese, but rather a fresh green salad and some crusty bread to soak up the juicy tomatoes. Once your water is boiling, it's time to start the sauce: add the pasta to the pot once all the sauce ingredients are in the pan and serve dinner in just 15 minutes.

Vegan in essence, this pasta has another version coming from the Lazio region of Italy in which anchovies are added to the sauce. Ours is vegan and can be made gluten-free just by swapping durum wheat pasta for rice or chickpea pasta. For our recipe, we choose convenient canned crushed tomatoes, but if you have a bounty of juicy and ripe summer tomatoes, simply chop them finely and add them to the pan as you'd add their canned counterpart. We choose sweet and fruity Kalamata olives because of their flavor, but Italian salty and tart Gaeta olives are also widely used for this preparation. Use either or a combination of both if you are lucky enough to have them at hand. In both cases, taste the sauce before adding more salt, as the olives, capers, and the tablespoon of olive brine are already very salt.

This sauce can be made ahead and kept in the fridge for up to three days. Double the recipe if you want some for later and freeze half in ice cube trays so you can defrost and use the necessary amounts without thawing too much of it. Delicious puttanesca can double as a base for other recipes, such as a no-cheese lasagna with layers of pasta sheets and grilled vegetables. Use it to stew tofu, tempeh, or seitan, and serve over brown rice or couscous for another delightful vegan meal with these bright and delicious puttanesca flavors.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

  • 2 tablespoons capers

  • 1/4 cup sliced Kalamata olives

  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste

  • 1 dash salt, or to taste

  • 1 dash freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

  • 1 tablespoon olive brine

  • 1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

  • 1/2 pound dried pasta

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for easy vegan pasta puttanesca
    The Spruce
  2. Sauté the garlic in olive oil for a minute or two.

    Saute the garlic
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  3. Add the basil, capers, olives, and red pepper flakes, and cook for another 2 minutes.

    Add the capers and olives
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  4. Reduce heat to low, and add the brine and tomatoes.

    Reduce heat to low
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  5. Cover and simmer for at least 15 minutes.

    Cover and simmer
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  6. Serve hot over cooked pasta.

    Serve hot over cooked pasta
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  7. Serve and enjoy!

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