Chickpea Puttanesca

April 23, 2019

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There’s nothing scandalous about how good this Chickpea Puttanesa is! This flavorful Italian sauce gets a healthy boost of protein from canned chickpeas!

The Italian sauce with a scandalous history!

Puttanesca has a “saucy” little history behind it.  Apparently, prostitutes used to whip this up between gentlemen because it’s quick and easy to make.  It’s also said that the glorious smell of this sauce cooking used to lure clients to them. All I know is that it was the perfect sauce to make to use up some of the canned goods in our kitchen!  

Ever since the husband went on his low acid diet, I have been trying to sneak in some of my favorite acidic foods during lunch.  I was seriously missing a big bowl of pasta with homemade tomato sauce.  After a recent kitchen clean-up-and-out, I discovered that I had everything on hand to make puttanesca.

Puttanesca is a tomato sauce made with garlic, olives, capers, Italian herbs and spices, and other ingredients.  It’s super fragrant and flavorful.  Served over pasta, it makes an easy weeknight dish!

While I was doing my kitchen cleanout, I also discovered that had chickpeas.

Lots and lots of chickpeas.

I decided to throw a can of chickpeas into this sauce because – well – why not?! Chickpeas are a great source of protein and have many health benefits linked to them.  They’re also filling with a subtle, nutty flavor, making them a satisfying addition this pasta sauce!

A mouthful of flavor in every bite!

Even though the Italian prostitutes of years gone by made this sauce because it’s quick, I let this sauce simmer for about 20-30 minutes to really let the flavors come together.  I love a good, chunky tomato sauce – one that will stick to every inch of pasta, just like this puttanesca does!  

Now, a lot of traditional puttanesca sauces call for anchovies, but I wanted to keep this dish as vegan and vegetarian as possible.  Also, I’m just not a fan of those salty little fishes. 

Mostly that. 

But go ahead and add them for a bit more flavor if that’s your jam.  This sauce is tasty enough already without them! 

Chickpea Puttanesca

Chickpea Puttanesca


  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 10 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 generous tsp. fresh oregano, chopped
  • 2 generous tsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. capers + a little brine
  • 1 cup black olives, sliced
  • 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Zest of 1 small lemon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Spaghetti, or your favorite pasta
  • Optional: chopped fresh parsley, shredded Parmesan cheese


  1. Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
  2. Add the garlic and onion and cook until fragrant, about one or two minutes.
  3. Lower the heat and carefully pour in the crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes.
  4. Stir in the oregano, basil, capers and brine, olives, and chickpeas.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and add red pepper flakes (as little or as much as you like).
  6. Finally, stir in the lemon zest. Allow sauce to simmer, stirring occasionally.
  7. While sauce is cooking, boil water for your pasta and cook until al dente.
  8. Stir the puttanesca sauce into the cooked pasta. Serve with extra puttanesca sauce, chopped fresh parsley, and shredded Parmesan cheese, if desired.


For even zingier flavor, use kalamata olives instead of black olives!

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Serve this sassy sauce over whole wheat spaghetti (or your favorite pasta) with crusty garlic bread.  Finish it off with a sprinkle of shredded Parmesan cheese and some fresh parsley!  This delicious sauce is full of flavor, but light enough to make it perfect for pasta this time of year! 


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