Pasta Puttanesca has been a popular Italian entrée since the early 1960s. I thought Puttanesca meant spaghetti with an anchovy-based sauce. As a result, I never gave it much thought until I discovered that Spaghetti alla Puttanesca is Italian for “whore’s style spaghetti”. That peaked my interest.
I combed through my cookbooks for recipes and found that Puttanesca is traditionally made with tomatoes, olive oil, olives, capers, and garlic. “What”, I asked myself, “no anchovies?” I called my friend Lol, who had lived in Italy, and asked if he had eaten Pasta Puttanesca while there. His response was, “with or without anchovies?” I told him about my perception that Puttanesca was not Puttanesca unless it was made with anchovies or anchovy paste and therefore, as a vegetarian, I had never ordered it in a restaurant. His reply was a simple, “you are such a dolt!”
Here is my foolishly simple vegan Pasta Puttanesca recipe that serves two hungry adults. If you or any of your friends eat cheese, I recommend providing grated Pecorino Romano cheese in a separate serving bowl for use at the table.
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (divided)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
2 green onions (thinly sliced)
1 tablespoon capers
1 cup cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives (cut in half)
8 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti
Italian Parsley for garnish (chopped)
Heat a large pot of water for the spaghetti. When the water boils, add the spaghetti and cook according to package directions.
While the spaghetti cooks, use a medium saucepan to heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, green onions, capers, tomatoes, and olives. Sauté for 5-6 minutes or until onions are soft. Cover (to retain heat) and set aside.
When spaghetti is ready, pour it into a colander to drain (reserve ½ cup of the pasta water). Place spaghetti in a large bowl and add the reserved water. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and toss well to combine.
Using tongs or a spaghetti server, place spaghetti on warm plates. Spoon tomato mixture on top of each plate of spaghetti and garnish with parsley. Bring to table immediately.
Note: This feeds two hungry people. Double the recipe for 4 people.