You can’t really go wrong with budget-friendly, long-lasting pantry staples, whether it’s canned goods or boxes of pasta. One plant-based meal that uses those items in the best way is something we like to call “pantry puttanesca”—a pasta puttanesca dish that’s so affordable that it comes down to under $1 per serving.
While the OG recipe first created in Naples, Italy during World War II included anchovies, Vicky Cohen and Ruth Fox, the sisters behind the kosher vegan and vegetarian food blog May I Have That Recipe?, created a dreamy plant-based version that still brings on the same great taste… minus the fish.
“We recreate that umami taste [from anchovies] in the dish by caramelizing tomato paste and adding a generous handful of sun-dried tomatoes in garlic oil,” they wrote. “We complete the sauce with traditional puttanesca ingredients, like capers, olives, fresh garlic, and tomatoes.”
“Our version uses high-protein, high-fiber chickpea pasta instead of regular wheat noodles, so it’s nutritionally balanced and super filling.” —Vicky Cohen and Ruth Fox
Classic spaghetti noodles are typically what you’ll find in the dish, but the best part about puttanesca is that it really works with any type of pasta you have sitting in your pantry. In fact, Cohen and Fox decided to make it even more nutritious by swapping in chickpea pasta for an added boost of protein. “Our version uses high-protein, high-fiber chickpea pasta instead of regular wheat noodles, so it’s nutritionally balanced and super filling,” they say.
All in all, because of using many pantry staples—from the olives to the tomatoes—you’ll have a dinner option that will cost you next to nothing. On top of that, it’s ready to eat in just 30 minutes.
High-protein pasta puttanesca
1 8-oz box of chickpea spaghetti or pasta of your choice
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp tomato paste
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
12 cocktail tomatoes, quartered
2 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
2 tbsp capers
12 Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced in half
10 cured black olives, pitted and sliced in half
small bunch of fresh basil leaves torn in pieces
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1. Cook the pasta following the package instructions. Drain and rinse.
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add the tomato paste and cook over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, until its red color darkens slightly.
3. Add the garlic, mix it in with the tomato paste, and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water and stir well.
4. Add the cocktail and sun-dried tomatoes, capers, olives, basil, red pepper flakes, and salt and continue cooking for about two minutes, until heated through.
5. Add the cooked pasta, toss well, and cook for another minute. Serve immediately.
Here are the health benefits of chickpeas you should know about: