Category Archives: Pasta

Vegan Spaghetti Puttanesca

Feed your inner saucy minx with this scandalously delicious puttanesca, sans anchovies.

According to the dictionary on my MacBook (a highly reliable source that has gotten me through many a paper), puttanesca sauce was developed by Italian prostitutes who needed a quick and tasty meal in between clients. Thank you, working gals of Italy! I have no idea if this is actually true, but believing it may add a little mystique to your dinner, so why not?

Savvy Italian prostitutes may not have whipped up this speedy and flavourful sauce, but you certainly should! It is one of the fastest and easiest tomato sauce recipes I know and it packs a punch, thanks to briny olives and capers along with the usual suspects of garlic, basil, tomatoes, onions and wine. I used to make it with anchovies and a wee bit of gorgonzola, but I honestly think it is every bit as good without.

This recipe is another one I honed during my stint living with my Italian second family. It is one of those recipes that isn’t measured and everyone’s version tastes just a bit different. I love how every cook’s food somehow has a distinct flavour, even if the ingredients are the same.

Today, I measured the ingredients as I went but usually I just eyeball it. So please use this as a blueprint and let your inner Italian prostitute guide you.

Vegan puttanesca sauce over brown rice spaghetti. Food styling and photography by Jack.

This sauce doesn’t take much longer to cook than the time it takes to boil your pasta, making it a great weeknight dinner.


2 tbsp olive oil (or less if you’re watching your fat intake)

1 white onion, diced

1/2 a jalapeño, seeded if it is a hot one

1/4 cup red wine

3/4 cup canned sliced black olives, drained

1/4 cup capers, drained

2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped (optional)

4 cloves garlic, minced

680 mL can Hunt’s plain tomato sauce

28 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained

Brown rice spaghetti (I use Tinkyada brand)


Heat olive oil on medium-low. Add onion and jalapeño. Fry, stirring, for 15 minutes until softened. Lower the heat if the onions are browning. This should be a gentle process.

When onions are softened, turn heat to high. Add the red wine and stir constantly until the liquid has reduced and the alcohol has evaporated. Turn the heat back to medium-low.

Add the capers, olives and fresh basil. Fry for 5 minutes.

Put your pasta water on and boil the noodles while you do the following steps.

Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add Hunt’s and diced tomatoes. Cover and simmer while your noodles are boiling.

Taste for salt. I did not need to add any, thanks to the saltiness of the capers and olives.

Serve over brown rice pasta and sprinkle with a little nutritional yeast (a delightful and vitamin-packed alternative to parmesan).

Buon Appetito!

Serves 6. Or 2 with leftovers. 



Filed under Condiments and Sauces, Dinner, Pasta

Vegan Pasta Primavera with Creamy Tomato Sauce

Pasta Primavera: Because the Italian word for "summer" just didn't sound as good.

Summer finally made an appearance yesterday in Vancouver and my neighbourhood came alive in the way that only Commercial Drive can. While my next-door neighbours were busy hula hooping and juggling to throbbing dance music, I basked in the sun and gorged on the first batch of local strawberries I’ve bought this year. The rest of the afternoon was spent lazily wandering to the grocery store, iced soy latte in hand, with the intention of stocking up on some more strawberries. I ended up buying a boatload of fresh basil, strawberries, rhubarb, and asparagus. Feeling this was a grocery bag worthy of a warm summer day, I returned home with pasta on the brain. Thanks, fresh basil, you get me every time.

I’m not sure why, but I wanted Pasta Primavera. Is this something that turns up on restaurant menus a lot still? Maybe it was a food fad in the 90s, maybe not. The early 90s are but a distant hazy memory now. I ordered it a lot as a vegetarian kid, as often the only meat-free thing on restaurant menus was some sort of pasta dish. In my mind, the 1994 version of Pasta Primavera consists of some sauteed veggies and a creamy rosé sauce. Something vaguely Italian that turned up on menus in non-Italian restaurants. Sort of like the ubiquitous Fettucini Alfredo, my all-time childhood fave.

So, here it is! My memory of Pasta Primavera, veganized and without gluten: Brown rice pasta tossed with garlic and basil-infused spring vegetables and drizzled with a creamy tomato sauce. It was pretty darn yummy.

Now that I think about it, one could make this more 90s-ish by serving it with tricoloured rotini noodles or something. While listening to Ace of Base.

More sauce, please. Thanks.

This is a three pot meal, so it takes a little coordination. Make the vegetables and sauce at the same time, but don’t forget to whisk! Serve it with your favourite pasta, enough for 4 people. I love Tinkyada brown rice pasta.

Tomato Cream Sauce Ingredients:

2 tbsp. olive oil

3 tbsp. brown rice flour (another flour would be fine, but I like rice flour for its neutral flavour)

2 1/2 cups unsweetened rice milk, or other unsweetened non-dairy milk

3 tbsp. nutritional yeast

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. salt


splash white wine (optional, but adds depth)

3/4 cup plain Hunt’s tomato sauce

1/4 cup Daiya vegan mozzarella (optional, but adds more creamy yumminess)


Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Add rice flour and whisk. Let cook a minute or so to infuse your roux with a nice toasty flavour.

Whisk in rice milk a little at a time, letting the sauce thicken between additions. Once the sauce has thickened, add nutritional yeast, garlic and onion powder, dried basil, salt, and a generous dose of freshly ground black pepper. Cook for a few more minutes.

Add wine, Hunt’s and Daiya, whisking well to melt the Daiya.

Taste for salt and pepper. Set aside, keeping warm while you boil your noodles.

Vegetable Ingredients:

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 small white onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups sliced mushrooms

1 yellow bell pepper, cut into bite-size pieces

10 asparagus spears (about half a bunch), cut in 2″ pieces

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

salt and pepper to taste


In a frying pan that has a lid (you’ll need it later), heat olive oil on medium-low heat. Add onions and a little salt and cook until softened, around 10 minutes or so.

Add garlic and mushrooms and a little more salt. Turn the heat up to medium and fry until the mushrooms release some liquid.

Add bell pepper and asparagus and cover. Cook until the vegetables are softened.

Remove lid and cook off excess liquid. Stir in chopped basil. Add freshly ground pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Turn off heat and set aside while you boil your noodles.

To serve: This recipe makes enough for 4 people, so make enough pasta accordingly. For presentation purposes, I plated the pasta, then drizzled some sauce, then added a couple scoops of sauteed vegetables, topped with another drizzle of sauce and garnished with a fresh basil chiffonade.

Bon appetit!

Go ahead, unleash your inner vegan pasta monster!

Serves 4 average appetites. Served 3 in my house, as I was trying to fill up before going to work where I serve real Italian food and am tortured by it for 6 hour stints.


Filed under Condiments and Sauces, Dinner, Pasta