Potatoes Puttanesca

February 25, 2020     Updated May 2, 2021    Jump to Recipe

My Potatoes Puttanesca recipe is inspired by the classic Pasta Puttanesca. It's my delicious plant-based spin on a comfort food classic!

Are you a fan of classic dishes with a twist?

One of my favorite ways to develop new recipes is to take a classic dish and change key elements of it without losing the core flavors.

Potatoes Puttanesca: My Spin on a Classic

That is exactly what I’ve done with my latest recipe, Potatoes Puttanesca.  If you’re a fan of Italian food as I am, then you know that Pasta Puttanesca is a classic Italian dish of pasta in a delicious tomato, olive, and anchovy sauce.

I’ve given this classic dish a twist by making the Puttanesca sauce vegetarian (with a vegan option!) and serving it tossed in roasted potatoes and chickpeas over a bed of arugula. 

Potatoes Puttanesca

That delicious, classic puttanesca sauce flavor remains at the core of my Potatoes Puttanesca, but by making the sauce plant-based and subbing out the pasta with roasted potatoes and chickpeas, there are new textural elements and flavors.

Better yet, this whole meal comes together in just over 30 minutes!  So it’s pretty perfect for any night of the week.

Actually, the ease and rapidity of getting this meal together is where puttanesca sauce gets its name!

Potatoes Puttanesca

The Origin Stories!

One school of thought—and this was the name origin I was familiar with, and probably you as well!—says that puttanesca sauce was invented by…um…Italian ladies of the night, shall we say.  These ladies, or “puttanescas,” needed quick meals, and would chop up some olives, dice some tomatoes and garlic, and in no time at all they’d have a delicious pasta sauce.  And so “spaghetti alla puttanesca” was born!

Ok, the other camp says that puttanesca sauce gets its name from Italian Restaurateur, Sandro Petti.  Legend has it that one night in the 1950s, Sandro was about to close his restaurant when a group of hungry customers walked in, and asked him to please put something together really, really fast!  And wouldn’t you know it, Sandro invented puttanesca sauce that night, which he named “puttanesca” for the ease and quickness of preparation.

Potatoes Puttanesca

I really don’t know which of these origin stories is correct, but I do know that puttanesca sauce is AMAZING. 

Make my Potatoes Puttanesca this week, and I guarantee you too will be amazed at how quickly my spin on this delicious classic comes together!

A Few Tips!

Tubed Tomato Paste: the Magic Ingredient for Potatoes Puttanesca

I use one of my very favorite ingredients in my puttanesca sauce, tubed tomato paste.  I’m telling you, this product has changed my life.  No more barely used cans of tomato paste going to waste!  With tubed tomato paste, you just use what you need, and store the rest in the fridge.  Here is my favorite brand on Amazon! [aff. link]  Please give this amazing product a try, I know you’ll love it!

Here is my favorite tubed tomato paste. I absolutely love the slightly sweet, very fresh flavor. Best of all, tubed tomato paste is SO easy to store, so you don't waste a single drop. Click to view on Amazon! [aff. link]

Switch it Up with Basil Chiffonade!

Classic puttanesca sauce is finished with parsley.  But since I’m all about changing things up with this dish, I use basil instead.  And I chiffonade the basil.  It sounds like a super fancy thing to do, but it isn’t.  You’re really just cutting the basil into thin little ribbons.  (That’s what “chiffonade” means in French, actually!)  I’ve included below some pictures of my method for making basil chiffonade.  Pictures just make it so much easier to visualize!

Stack a few basil leaves of the same size on top of each other.
Now roll them up...
Until it looks like you've got a little basil cigar!
Now chop that cigar into fine, thin "ribbons."
BOOM. You've just made basil chiffonade! Easy, right?
5 from 2 votes

Potatoes Puttanesca

Do you love classic recipes with a twist? That is exactly what my Potatoes Puttanesca is, a classic (plant-based!) puttanesca sauce served over roasted potatoes and chickpeas instead of pasta, for new textural notes and flavors!
Prep Time7 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time37 mins
Servings: 5
Print Recipe


For the potatoes:

  • 1.5 pounds potatoes, preferably a non-peel variety like Yukon Gold, diced to ½ inch pieces
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper

For the sauce:

  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 4 Tbsps olive oil
  • 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in halves
  • ¾ tsp sea salt
  • 20 Kalamata olives, diced
  • 20 Manzanilla olives, diced
  • 1 tsp capers, diced
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp tomato paste

Everything else:

  • 15 oz can chickpeas, drained
  • 3 Tbsp Parmesan, freshly grated, plus more for garnish (omit to keep this dish vegan)
  • 1 Tbsp basil, chiffonade, plus more for garnish


Roast the potatoes

  • Add the potatoes, salt, pepper, and olive oil to a baking sheet. Now toss everything together until the potatoes are coated in the oil and seasonings.
  • Roast the potatoes for 15 minutes.
  • Take them out of the oven, flip each potato piece so that a different side of each potato is face down on the baking sheet, and roast for another 15 minutes. Potatoes are done!
  • While the potatoes roast, make your puttanesca sauce.

Cook the tomatoes

  • In a large skillet, heat the garlic in 2 Tbsps olive oil for about one minute over medium heat.
  • Now add the tomato halves and ½ tsp sea salt.
  • Cook the tomatoes over medium heat for ten minutes, tossing occasionally with your spatula. The tomatoes will soften, release their juices, and break down a bit.
  • After about eight minutes, use your spatula and carefully press down on the tomatoes to encourage them to further release their juices (again, do this carefully so you don’t get tomato juice in your eye!)

Add the olives and seasonings

  • Now add in the olives, remaining ¼ tsp sea salt, tomato paste, sugar, capers, and the remaining 2 Tbsps of olive oil.
  • Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat.
  • Turn off the heat, and add the basil chiffonade and Parmesan (omit to keep vegan). Mix the basil and Parmesan into the puttanesca sauce with your spatula.

Bring it all together

  • Your potatoes and puttanesca sauce should each finish cooking at just about the same time!
  • Once both are done, just add the roasted potatoes and drained chickpeas to the pan with the puttanesca sauce. Mix it all together until each potato and chickpea is coated in the puttanesca sauce.

Serve and enjoy!

  • Serve my Potatoes Puttanesca beside or on top of a bed of arugula for a complete meal, and garnish each plate with additional basil chiffonade and Parmesan, if desired.


This dish is gluten free!
This dish is vegetarian!
This dish is vegan if you omit the parmesan.
And of course, if using parmesan, freshly grate it yourself!

© Copyright 2022 Vanguard of Hollywood

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. David @ Spiced

    5 stars
    I love Italian food, too, and I also love putting a twist on classic recipes. This potato version of puttanesca sounds delicious, Shannon! And I’ve also heard that story about the origins of puttanesca. Who knows?? There are so many common recipes that claim to be developed by chefs feeding hungry customers…sounds almost too cliche, right? No matter the origin, I love the flavors! And the basil twist is a good one here. I’d love to see this on the dinner table tonight. 🙂

    1. Shannon

      Thanks David! Haha you are so so right! Hungry customers in need of food ASPAP is definitely a common origin story for so many of the best recipes. 😆 Good motivation to get a delicious meal on the table quickly, right? 😆😋

  2. Katerina

    5 stars
    Thanks for the tip on chopping the basil and teaching me a new word (chiffonade – sounds so fancy)! I am loving all the flavours in this delicious meal, Shannon and I can see how it could quickly become a new family favourite around here! Yum!

    1. Shannon

      Isn’t “chiffonade” the fanciest word?!!! I just love it, and I love the technique! Thank you so much Katerina! 💗

  3. Chef Mimi

    Well this is brilliant! It took me a sec to figure out that traditional puttanesca isn’t vegetarian because of the anchovies! But the sauce is so good, and what you’ve done here is really smart. I’m not a vegetarian, but I eat very little meat overall, and am always on the lookout for meatless ideas!

    1. Shannon

      Thank you so much Mimi! I often forget about the anchovy factor in traditional puttanesca sauce myself. That is so awesome, this recipe is definitely a no-fuss meatless meal option! ❤️

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