Fettuccine alla Puttanesca – literally, “fettuccine of the whores” in Italian. Rumor has it that the ladies of the night would whip up this dish with their windows wide open, with the spicy/tangy/garlic-y aroma of the sauce used to lure men into their establishment off the street. Another version says that the ladies of the night favored this dish because all ingredients were pantry storeable and a batch could be quickly whipped up in between appointments (how delightfully convenient!). Regardless, this classic Italian dish is one of my absolute faaaaves (and that’s coming from a half-Italian chick who cannot talk without using her hands and likes pasta a lot). Fettuccine alla Puttanesca combines pasta tossed in a delicious sauce of tomatoes, garlic, olives, capers and red pepper flakes (yum!). Traditionally, it also includes the use of anchovy paste, but since your girl don’t roll like that, I amped up the flavor instead by using fresh parsley and lemon, and added my own vegan friendly twist: roasted cauliflower, which adds an earthy, nutty flavor. Not only is this dish astoundingly delish, but it’s easy (heh 😉 ), quick and you can pull it all together with just a few pantry items. I added a little bit of extra fiber and protein by swapping regular pasta with whole wheat fettuccine with milled flax seeds (which I found in the pasta aisle of my grocery store). If you really want to go for it, add a can of chickpeas/diced tempeh or swap the cauliflower for a roasted vegetable of your choice – I’m hard pressed to think of something that wouldn’t taste phenomenal in a puttanesca sauce. It’s full of flavor and bold, and incredibly satisfying; perfect for a crowd. Now that you know how good it is, let’s get slutty! (Sorry, Mom).
Vegan Fettuccine alla Puttanesca
For the cauliflower:
- 1 head of cauliflower
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the fettuccine:
- 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon dried red chile flakes, plus more to taste
- 12 ounces (3/4 lb) of whole wheat fettuccine
- 1 can (28 ounces) whole plum tomatoes, juices reserved
- 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
- 2 tablespoons drained capers
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Freshly chopped parsley, for serving
- Lemon wedges, for serving
Step One: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Heat a large pot of salted water to boil on the stove top. While things are heating up, prep your cauliflower by quartering and coring it. Discard the core, and cut your cauliflower into 1/2-inch thick slices and place onto a lined baking sheet. Toss with olive oil, and then sprinkle with about two pinches of kosher salt and a few turns of freshly ground pepper. Roast the cauliflower for about 20 minutes (flipping halfway through), or until tender and golden in spots.
Step Two: Once the water has come to a boil, start the sauce. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet, and saute the garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 1 – 2 minutes, or until the garlic becomes fragrant, stirring constantly.
Step Three: Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water, and cook until al dente (follow the instructions on the box, but make sure the pasta still has a little bit of chew left to it). Add the tomatoes (including juices), olives and capers to the skillet and crush the tomatoes by hand using a spoon or spatula. Cook the sauce for about 10 minutes, or the amount of time it takes the pasta to reach al dente.
Step Four: Reserve about 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta cooking water and set aside before draining the pasta. Drain your fettuccine (no need to rinse), and then transfer to the skillet with the puttanesca sauce. Toss the pasta in the sauce, along with the roasted cauliflower. Add just a splash of the starchy water to start (add more if a thinner sauce consistency is desired) and toss well to combine.
Step Five: Remove the pasta puttanesca from heat and transfer to a serving dish. Top off with freshly chopped parsley and serve with lemon wedges on the side. Enjoy! 😀
This dish truly speaks for itself. Last night I met R to get a mani/pedi before our respective weekend adventures (I’m heading to DC on Friday to hang out before my trail half marathon this Sunday), and I brought her a big ol’ Tupperware container of it to try out for dinner (seeing that every time I cook, I make enough for my imaginary Italian family of 8, I had plenty to spare, and really wanted to get her take on it – she’s one of my Omnivore Approvers). Her reaction: “SUCH GOOD PASTA!! It was so flavorful…didn’t even add parm ;).” See? Even the omnivores approve. This dish is pretty much the best/most delicious way ever to start carbo-loading for my half (5 days! Eeeeeeeeee!). And, seeing that it’s Spring Break and all, this is the perfect dish to whip up on the fly for your besties while vacationing somewhere warm and sunny (and you’ll still be able to rock that bikini the next day). Plus, the aroma will lure all the hotties your way. 😉 😉 Count it! 😀
I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I did. Happy Tuesday, all!!