I’ve got to say, out of all the varieties, puttanesca just might be my favorite pasta sauce. It originated in Naples (I seriously need to go to Italy), and typically has tomatoes, capers, aromatics, anchovies and hot pepper.
For my version of puttanesca, I’ve added a vegetable that is highly underrated… eggplant! I really love incorporating eggplant into my vegetarian dishes because it has such a hearty and meaty texture and is really filling. It’s wonderful cut into rounds, topped with grated parmesan and roasted in the oven or in a sauce like this Eggplant Puttanesca.
The other ingredient in this sauce that I am absolutely crazy about is the capers! I love them in so many dishes, from piccata to lox on toast… the salty brininess is just one of my favorite flavors. They are subtle in this dish, so even if you aren’t as crazy about them as I am, I recommend keeping them in to try it!
I kept this dish vegetarian by omitting the anchovies, but they would be a fantastic addition. If you decide to add them, I would just suggest to play around with the salt level to make sure they don’t push it over the edge. The capers already add a bit of saltiness, so just be sure to salt to taste!
One of my other favorite things about this meal is that it uses a can of plum or crushed tomatoes to build the Eggplant Puttanesca sauce. Even though there are so many brands of tomato sauce on shelf that you could easily swap in, I want more people to know just how easy it is to build an incredibly flavorful tomato sauce by just using aromatics, a can of tomatoes, tomato paste & seasonings.
I personally think it’s the best way to make a marinara or puttanesca sauce because you have complete control over the ingredients (store-bought tomato sauces typically have added sugar and preservatives), and it’s the cheapest! It just takes a few more minutes of simmering on the stove but I promise the flavor is so worth it.
I buy a few cans every couple of weeks at the store so that I always have the ingredients for pasta sauce at home. When all else fails, pasta with homemade marinara is the best low-effort dinner!
Eggplant Puttanesca Pasta
My Eggplant Puttanesca starts with the aromatics: garlic and onion. Start by sautéing these ingredients in avocado or olive oil until soft, about 1-2 minutes. Then add in 2 tbsp of tomato pasta. The tomato paste is important in this recipe because it gives a concentrated tomato flavor that will make the sauce just delicious.
Once the tomato paste has sauteéd, add the cubed eggplant, stirring to coat with the tomato paste mixture. At this point, I like to add in ½ tsp of salt and pepper so that I’m seasoning in stages. Let the eggplant sauté for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened.
After sautéing the tomato paste and eggplant with the onion and garlic for 10 minutes, in goes the can of plum tomatoes. After adding the plum tomatoes, I refill the can halfway with water, swishing it around to make sure I get all of the tomato sauce out of it and it adds a bit of extra liquid to the sauce. Add 1 tbsp Italian seasoning and ½ tsp crushed red pepper (or more if you like more heat!)
Bring the sauce up to a low boil on medium-low heat, and simmer for about 30 minutes. You can use the back of the spoon to crush the tomatoes and eggplant chunks to your liking, depending on how chunky you want your sauce.
While the sauce is cooking, go ahead and cook the pasta! After 30 minutes of simmering, add the ½ cup of capers and the meal is done!
If you make this one, tag me on Instagram. I love seeing your creations!
Eggplant Puttanesca Pasta
- 1/2 sweet onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 eggplant, cubed into 1-inch pieces
- 1 28 oz. can plum/diced/crushed tomatoes
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup capers
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 box pasta of choice
- Heat a large dutch oven or pot on the stove on medium heat for a few minutes. Add 1 tbsp avocado or olive oil and continue to heat for another 1 minute.
- Add onion and garlic, sautéing for 1-2 minutes until aromatic and softened.
- Add 2 tbsp of tomato paste, stirring to coat the onions and garlic.
- Add the cubed eggplant, stirring frequently and cooking for 10 minutes, until eggplant is softened.
- Pour in 1 28 oz. can of crushed, diced or plum tomatoes and refill the can halfway, swishing around to get the remaining tomato. Pour into the pot.
- Add in the seasonings, stirring to combine. Bring to a low boil, and and simmer for 30 minutes with a lid on. Stir frequently, using the back of a spoon to break up the eggplant and tomato chunks to your desire.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, cook pasta according to instructions.
- After 30 minutes, stir in the capers and turn heat off. Either serve on top of pasta or add pasta to the sauce.