This Vegan Puttanesca with Rigatoni is a classic Italian pasta dish filled with tomatoes, capers and olives. Its flavorful, simple to make and freezes well.
But, my first love is red sauce. And puttanesca is my favorite red sauce of all time. Its salty and briny from the capers and olives and has big tomato flavor. Best of all its easy to make!
What is Puttanesca?
Puttanesca is a tomato-based sauce that originates in Naples, Italy. It traditionally contains capers, olives and anchovies in addition to the classic red sauce ingredients like olive oil and garlic.
Since this is a Vegan Puttanesca, I'm leaving the anchovies out. But that doesn't meal less flavor, I promise!
And, traditionally, puttanesca is served with spaghetti, but my favorite pasta is rigatoni, so that's what I'm using. You can, of course, use any pasta you like.
Whole Peeled Tomatoes: My favorite whole peeled tomatoes are these by Cento. I like them because they taste great are packed in puree rather than tomato juice.
Onion and Garlic: You can't make a single Italian dish without onions and garlic. These provide so much flavor.
Carrot: Have you ever seen tomato sauce call or sugar? Its because canned tomatoes can be pretty acidic. But, carrots are sweet enough to counter act any acidity.
Tomato Paste: For even more concentrated tomato flavor.
Kalamata Olives: I like to buy whole kalamata olives and pit them myself, but pitted are also great!
Capers: We want capers, not caper berries for this Vegan Puttanesca. Capers are the size of small peas and caper berries are the side of grapes. And be sure to get the capers packed in brine and not the kind packed with sea salt.
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
There are not many substitutions I have to recommend here. But, if you don't like any spice in your sauce, leave the red pepper flakes out.
If you don't like olives or capers, give my Hearty Marinara Sauce a try instead!
And, if you don't like rigatoni, any pasta will work with this Vegan Puttanesca sauce!
This Vegan Puttanesca sauce is super easy to make. Here is how:
First, pour the whole peeled tomatoes into a bowl, and use clean hands to crush them to your desired consistency.
Then, heat a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat and sweat the onion and carrot until soft.
Next, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute.
Now, add the tomato paste and cook until it browns slightly, about 4-5 minutes.
Then, add the crushed tomatoes, olives, capers, oregano and red pepper flake.
Turn the heat to low and simmer until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 30 minutes.
While the sauce is simmering, cook the rigatoni, or your pasta of choice.
And serve it all together when its done!
Top Recipe Tip
Cooking the tomato paste until it is slightly browned will make this sauce taste like its been cooking all day!
To store, place the leftovers into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
To freeze, keep the sauce separate from the pasta. Scoop it into an airtight container and freeze for up to 2 months.
I chose not to include anchovies in my recipe, but it's very common traditionally. Because they are "melted in" you don't need to replace these with anything, you just won't miss them.
As with most pastas, garlic bread is a good choice. Or, you can go with a nice broccoli rabe or an antipasto option.
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Vegan Puttanesca with Rigatoni
- 1 4 Quart Dutch Oven or other heavy-bottomed pot
- 1 Cutting Board
- 1 Chefs Knife
- 1 Wooden Spoon
- Measuring Cups and Spoons
- 1 28oz Can of Whole Peeled Tomatoes see note
- 3 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- ½ Medium Yellow Onion, small dice
- 1 Medium Carrot, grated
- 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoon Tomato Paste
- ½ Cup Kalamata Olives, drained and roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoon Capers, drained see note
- ½ teaspoon Dried Oregano
- ½ teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flake
- 1 Pound Rigatoni or pasta of choice
- Pour the can of tomatoes into a large bowl, and crush them to your desired consistency using clean hands. Set aside.1 28oz Can of Whole Peeled Tomatoes
- In a 4 quart Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot, add the olive oil, onion and carrot and cook over medium-low heat until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.3 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil, ½ Medium Yellow Onion, small dice, 1 Medium Carrot, grated
- Into the pot, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Then add the tomato paste and cook until slightly browned, about 4 minutes.3 Cloves Garlic, minced, 3 tablespoon Tomato Paste
- Add the tomatoes, olives, capers, oregano and crushed red pepper. Stir and turn heat to low. Allow the sauce to simmer, stirring occasionally until it has slightly thickened, about 15-20 minutes.½ Cup Kalamata Olives, drained and roughly chopped, 3 tablespoon Capers, drained, ½ teaspoon Dried Oregano, ½ teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flake
- Meanwhile, cook the rigatoni to the package directions.1 Pound Rigatoni
- Serve the sauce on top of the pasta. Enjoy!
Let me know how you like this recipe!