Puttanesca or rather alla puttanesca is my most favorite pasta sauce. It is fragrant, tangy and robust and contains some of my favorite things. Merriam Webster defines it as “served with or being a pungent tomato sauce typically containing olives, garlic, capers, hot pepper, and sometimes anchovies” and the literal translation from Italian is “in the style of a prostitute.” I am assuming this name references the fact that the sauce is somewhat salty from the capers, olives, and anchovies. The sauce alone is called sugo alla puttanesca in Italian and is traditionally served over pasta, but makes a nice stew served with fresh bread also. Recipes differ according to region, the Neapolitan version is prepared without anchovies. I went Neapolitan and I also substituted artichoke hearts for the salty little fish.
I like to do my sauce in the crock pot so that it develops that depth of flavor that slow cooking all day can give it. I start by dicing up my red onion, and tossing it in the crock pot on high for about 1 hour, it actually caramelizes while I am off living my life. I toss carrots and celery in my Ninja and shred them and add them to the pot of caramelized onions to complete my mirepoix along with a dash of sea salt. Next I chop up my sweet peppers and mushrooms and add that to the crock. To this I add the the foundation of the sauce; a regular sized can of organic tomato sauce, a large can of tomato puree and an equally large can of crushed tomatoes with basil. I prefer using the no salt added kind so I can control the saltiness of the sauce. I give that a good stir and seal it up while I chop up the rest of my stuff.
Because I am somewhat of an olive freak I usually have several varieties on hand. Today I have pitted kalamatas and some delightfully large green queens stuffed with garlic no less! The pitted kalamatas I gave a rough chop and tossed into the sauce. The Green Queens got more finesse, I carefully sliced each one very fine and the garlic that was in them too plus a couple of extra fresh cloves to boot. I drained and diced up the artichoke hearts and all of it went into the pot. Next I thinned the sauce with a cup of dry white wine and a cup of Better Than Bouillon No Beef Base that I rinse the cans out with to get every scrap of tomato goodness from them. Before going on a plant based diet, I always used beef broth as the base for my tomato sauces so now I choose a similar vegetarian option. It works perfectly. All that is left to do is stir in the herbs and any other seasonings. I like a little heat, you may want more or less heat so adjust the red pepper flakes accordingly. The sauce looks very thick and stew-like at this stage, but it will cook down. Just seal that cooker up and set it on high for at least 4 hours. Obviously if you plan to do this while you are away from the house, you can do so at a lower temperature for a longer period.
Once it cooks down it is a very saucy sauce and ready to be poured generously over pasta, used in a layered pasta dish, over alternative pasta like spiralized zucchini or rutabaga, or dish it up and dip bread sticks in it, there’s no judging here.
- 1 28 oz can Tomato Puree
- 1 28 oz can Crushed tomato with basil
- 1 15 oz can Organic Tomato Sauce
- 1 large red onion, diced
- 2 carrots, shredded
- 2 stalks Celery, finely diced
- 2 Green Bell Peppers, diced
- 1 8 oz Package White Mushrooms, chopped
- 1 8 oz Package Baby Portabella Mushrooms, chopped
- 4-5 cloves garlic, sliced thin
- 8-10 Queen green olives, sliced thin
- 2-3 T Kalamata Olives, drained and chopped
- 1-2 T Capers, drained
- 1 can Artichoke Hearts, drained and chopped
- 1 C Dry White Wine (your can use vegetable broth or No Chicken Broth if you avoid alcohol)
- 1 C Hot Water with 1 T Better Than Bouillon No Beef Base, dissolved
- 1 small Bunch Fresh Basil, thoroughly chopped
- 2 T Dried Italian Herbs
- 1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
- Sea Salt & Black Pepper to taste
- Throw your diced red onion into the crock-pot with a pinch of salt to caramelize, seal the crock and set on high for one hour.
- Shred 2 carrots and 2 stalks of celery and add that mixture to the caramelized onions, stir well.
- Add the chopped bell pepper, mushrooms, canned tomato products, 1 C white wine, 1 C Bouillon water (I rinse out the cans with this water to get all the tomato goodness out) and stir well.
- Prep the olives, garlic and artichoke hearts and a bunch of fresh basil and add this to the pot, stirring well.
- Finally season the pot with dried Italian herbs, red pepper flakes (you can adjust the amount to your heat preference) and some black pepper. Seal it up on high for 4-5 hours or set it on medium for 7-8 hours.
- Garnish with a little vegan Parmesan and some fresh parsley.