Based on the Italian dish ‘Spaghetti alla puttanesca’ which translates to’ ‘spaghetti of the prostitute’ (some say due to it’s pungent aroma, others that it because it is s0 simple and quick to make – take your pick on that one), this easy cold pasta salad recipe is so fresh, vibrant and full of flavour.
Puttanesca pasta is traditionally served warm (and with anchovies); but this pasta salad is cold and made vegan without anchovies. The pasta salad dressing is made from a heady mix of salty olives and capers, sweet juicy tomatoes, pungent garlic, and fresh herbs – either sweet basil, or fresh parsley, whichever you prefer.
It is a great summer pasta dish, and on hot days I cook the pasta and infuse the garlic in the oil whilst making/eating breakfast, then the hot work is done come the evening time, and all I have to do is chop a handful of ingredients and give it a quick stir before serving. You can leave the garlic raw, but as we are not big raw garlic fans I like to infuse the oil with it so you just get a hint of garlic rather than a great hit of it.
The sauce also makes a delicious bruschetta topping, or pile any leftovers on top of crackers for a quick lunch or snack.
Can I make this puttanesca pasta salad ahead?
Yes, you can make the pasta salad and store in the fridge for up to 2 days. The basil can become a little brown over time, so I’d recommend you add this last minute.
Make it Yours:
Love garlic: You can use the garlic raw, crushed, in the dressing rather than infusing the oil with it. My family prefers mild garlic.
Like things spicy: You could add a little extra dried chilli, or use fresh chilli.
You eat fish: Add tinned tuna or anchovies,
You want to include some plant-based protein: Mix in a tin of chickpeas.
If you are looking for more salad ideas, why not have a look at my lightened-up Smoked Salmon Caesar, refreshing Watermelon Salad with Mozzarella or Beetroot and Feta Salad. If you are after vegan/plant based meal inspo, this Coconut Chickpea Curry is a favourite, as is this Lentil Bolognese
Puttanesca Pasta Salad
- 200 g pasta
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic peeled and halved
- 250 g chopped tomatoes around 2 large tomatoes, seeds removed
- ¼ - ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
- 1 tbsp capers in vinegar roughly chopped
- 12 black olives roughly chopped
- Handful of fresh parsley or basil roughly chopped/torn
- Cook the pasta according to packet instructions. When cooked run under cold water to remove starch and cool. (This should stop the pasta sticking together when cool.)
- Whilst the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil and garlic in a small saucepan over a low heat. After 3-4 minutes bubbles will start to appear around the garlic. Turn off the heat and leave in the pan to cool - this step is optional if you’d prefer to have raw garlic.
- Take the garlic out of the olive oil and mix in the chopped tomatoes, dried chilli, capers, olives, and parsley or basil.
- Stir this tomato dressing into the pasta and eat straight away, or keep in the fridge for a couple of days.