A rich putanesca sauce atop linguine is one of my favorite dishes; add shellfish to it, and you’ve got my all time favorite meal. So, going vegan and attending to my gluten and wheat sensitivities presented a quandry of troubles. I always made putanesca sauce with anchovies, you know!? It tastes great that way!
After a couple months of experimenting, I think that I’ve landed on a tasty substitute, that is very rich and satisfying. The artichokes, eggplant, and coconut milk give the sauce that unctuousness that meat product lends.
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- Plenty of extra virgin olive oil (or coconut oil)
- 1/2 large eggplant, diced small
- 1 carrot, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- A generous handful, each, of oil-cured black olives and Castlevetrano olives, cut in halves
- 1 jar of oil-packed artichoke hearts, cut in halves
- 1/4 can of coconut milk
- 1/2 to 3/4 can of marinara (or other favorite) tomato sauce
- 1-2 tablespoon(s) of maple syrup
- A bounty of spinach
- A couple squirts of Bragg’s Amino Acids
- A couple squirts of vegetable broth
- Spices and herbs to taste: sea salt, ground pepper, sage, rosemary, chili flake, basil
- Turnip noodles (you can make these yourself or buy them; they are made by creating noodle shapes from a turnip)
- In a large skillet, heat several generous swirls of the oil over medium-low heat. Add aromatics (onion and garlic) with salt and pepper, and cook until transparent and just starting to stick to the pan (carmelize).
- Throw in your eggplant, sage, rosemary, and basil, and add in more oil because eggplant loves to soak up fluids. Cover and cook until eggplant is soft. Be patient.
- Add carrots and olives and cook until carrots begin to soften, and the veggies have soaked up almost all of the oil (I like to add even more oil because I like an oily putanesca, so I add more when I add the carrots and just let the veggies feast on it). It’ll look like this:
4. Deglaze the pan by pouring in a couple squirts of good vegetable broth
5. Add everything else. Mix very well. Cover, and simmer until turnip is done (see note below).
Note: You can boil the turnip noodles before you put them in the pot…goodness knows that the dish will cook faster this way, because placing the noodles directly into the sauce takes a long time to soften (15 minutes or so). But, I like putting them into the sauce because they are more infused with the sauce and also maintain some crunch (al dente).
The final result: I feel like I’m sitting in my old apartment in Seattle, sans fish from the Fish Market, feasting on a rugged putanesca…but with sunlight coming in the windows. It’s fab.