Vegetarian Pasta Puttanesca is a fresh take on spaghetti puttanesca, but without the anchovies! The anchovies are replaced with shiitake mushrooms seasoned with a touch of vegan fish sauce, along with traditional olives and capers for a delicious dinner you can make in 20 minutes!
There are certain dishes that I have been making at least once a week in the last two months, and this Vegetarian Pasta Puttanesca is one of them. The first time I made it, it was literally what we call a “throw-together,” you know, one of those dishes that you kind of just toss together without even thinking about, which usually means it will turn out better than those premeditated dishes with all the fuss.
It was a Saturday late morning when I realized we needed to eat a quick lunch before running some errands, and there was nothing in the refrigerator and pantry except for a jar of capers, a can of olives, and a bin of baby spinach. I was craving a spaghetti puttanesca, but with my vegan hubby (not to mention an expired tin of anchovies), I knew I would have to find a way to get that briny, umami-flavored sauce without my little fishy friends.
To my relief, I saw that I still had some vegan fish sauce in the refrigerator, along with dried shiitake mushrooms in the pantry, and I knew I could easily substitute the anchovies by seasoning the mushrooms with the vegetarian-friendly fish sauce!
The result: a delicious pasta puttanesca that would make anyone happy, whether they’re an anchovy fan or not!
My husband and I loved it so much, it’s been on repeat ever since — I love that I can make this dish in 20 minutes from pantry ingredients, which seems to be all the time I have to devote to cooking dinner these busy days before school lets out for summer!
If you’re looking for a fast dinner to tuck into your back pocket, definitely add this one to your arsenal. I like to keep dried shiitake mushrooms on hand for just this reason, though fresh mushrooms are just as lovely. But the stars of the dish really are those olives and capers — they seem to know how to make an impression when you’re short on time. I hope you enjoy twirling your fork into this one!
MORE VEGETARIAN PASTA RECIPES TO TRY
Vegetarian Pasta Puttanesca
- 3/4 pound linguine pasta
- 1/2 ounce shiitake mushrooms dried or fresh
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 large cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon vegan fish sauce
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes halved
- 14 oz canned olives halved
- kosher salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons capers plus more for serving if desired
- 1 cup reserved pasta water
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
- red pepper flakes to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Season the water with salt and cook the linguine according to the package instructions, reserving a cup of the pasta water.
- If using dried shiitake mushrooms: while the pasta cooks, soak the shiitake mushrooms in about 1 cup boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain the mushrooms, and trim and discard the stems. Slice the mushrooms in 1/4-inch strips.
- Heat olive oil and garlic in a deep sided sauté pan over medium heat until the garlic is fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and season with the vegan fish sauce.
- Add the tomatoes, olives, salt and pepper, and cook, gently mashing the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon.
- Stir in the capers and cooked linguine. Add reserved pasta water 1/4 cup at a time, tossing to coat the pasta with sauce.
- Add the spinach, and toss to wilt. Stir in the basil and season to taste with red pepper flakes.
- Serve immediately, garnishing with additional capers, pepper and red pepper flakes.