Meatless Monday recipes: Puttanesca sauce

It’s been over a year since we’ve been going meatless on Monday, and I have barely made a dent in the delicious meatless recipes I’ve gotten on the Meatless Monday website and from my readers. Going meatless just one day a week is great for your health and the environment. And as an added bonus, it will probably save you money as well.

This week, I thought I’d tell you about one of our favorite staples. It’s easy and uses only a few ingredients that you can keep in the pantry. My husband loves this dish, and often cooks it himself.


olive oil (optional)
1 large can tomatoes
pitted and chopped kalamata olives
3 or 4 cloves of garlic

In a large pan, saute tomatoes in a little bit of olive oil in their own juice. You can use chopped tomatoes, or if they’re whole you’ll want to chop them so they don’t take as long to cook down. The olive oil is good for you, but optional. Cook on medium heat for 15-2o minutes, stirring occasionally. Put garlic through a presser and add to the tomatoes and continue cooking. When the sauce starts to thicken, add about 1/3 of a small jar of capers and about half a can or jar of pitted and chopped kalamata olives and cook another 10 minutes or so. Trader Joe’s sells pitted kalamata olives, which saves a lot of time. Although you can also be pitting them while the sauce is cooking.

The key is to cook long enough for the sauce to thicken and get flavorful. You have to keep an eye on it to stir occasionally, but there isn’t much danger of it burning if you keep the heat on medium.

Serve over any kind of pasta or polenta and a side salad. Our favorite with this sauce is angel hair pasta.

The name “puttanesca” comes from the root “puta” which is Italian for prostitute. The dish got it’s name because it’s cheap and easy. It traditionally includes anchovies, but this is my vegetarian version I’ve been cooking for almost 20 years.

Do you go meatless on Mondays? Please share your favorite simple meatless meals and I’ll include them as part of the next Meatless Mondays post. Click here to check out all the previous meatless monday recipe posts.


  1. Melanie Webster says

    Yum, this recipe sounds delicious! We don't do meatless Monday per say, we only eat meat a maximum of three times a week. Like you say its better for your health and the environment with the added bonus of saving you some money. I couldn't go back to eating meat everyday, its too heavy and there are just too many delicious alternatives!

  2. Angela says

    Melanie- We generally eat meatless several times a week as well, and I really do prefer the alternatives. I rarely cook with meat, but like to make fresh fish and chicken occasionally.

    This recipe grows on you- it is a little bit "sour" at first, but you get used to it. Also, the longer you let the tomatoes cook and get thick, the sweeter the sauce will be to counteract the sourness of the olives and capers. I hope you like it! One thing I really love about it is that it seems "special" and is good enough to serve for guests. Also great that the ingredients are from the pantry so you can always throw it together.

    It's one of the first things I ever served my husband while we were dating.

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