Puttanesca Pasta Salad. A simple and delicious pasta salad with the bright tomato flavour of a puttanesca sauce that can be served hot or cold.
This versatile pasta puttanesca salad is one that I came up with simply to use up a bounty of tomatoes that were in the fridge. As often happens at this time of year, we are guilty of buying more produce than we consume.
Today it was a combination of vine ripened hothouse tomatoes and some leftover grape tomatoes that needed some attention.
My solution to this is often to make a quick cooked puttanesca sauce to serve over pasta for dinner. Very much like I use in our Sausage Pasta Puttanesca.
I make pasta puttanesca often around here. I add grilled chicken, sausage for even some meatballs that we’ve frozen when making Spaghetti and Meatballs.
A versatile side dish or a meal in itself.
My original pasta puttanesca sauce recipe is what I followed for this puttanesca pasta salad and then I just added some balsamic vinegar plus a little extra virgin olive oil to it to make it a bit more like a salad dressing.
I originally intended to to make this only as an experiment for a cold pasta salad but tasting it while it was still hot, the whole family was suddenly dishing up samples in small ramekins because it was so good.
Once it did cool down it was still very tasty cold, making it ideal to serve as a side dish at a BBQ or to take along on a picnic. Served hot it could easily be a vegetarian meal in itself or to serve as a side dish with grilled chicken or fish for a more complete meal.
It’s great to have a recipe that you can enjoy in so many ways.
If you can’t get enough of great pasta dinner recipes, please check out our collection of 20 Best Pasta Dinners!
Originally published July 2016. Updated Oct 2020.
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- 3 cups uncooked dry rotini pasta rigatoni works well too
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium red onion minced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 6 cups large tomatoes diced (about 4 )
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 2/3 cup pitted kalamata olives
- 1 red pepper diced optional
- ½ tsp chilli flakes or 2 tbsp hot sauce optional
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste optional
- 3 tbsp chopped capers optional
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Boil the pasta in well salted water as instructed on the package until al dente. Be careful not to overcook the pasta.
Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and sauté for about a minute or two until the onions soften but do not brown.
Turn heat to high and toss in the olives, tomatoes, brown sugar, chilli flakes, anchovy paste and capers and cook until the tomatoes just start to break down.
Add the red pepper and basil and cook for an additional few minutes until the juice from the tomatoes has mostly cooked off.
Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
Remove from the heat and stir in the 1/4 cup olive oil and the balsamic vinegar.
Toss the sauce with the cooked pasta and chopped basil.
Whether serving this salad hot or cold, you can still serve it with a sprinkle of finely grated parmesan cheese if you like.
I realized after I had taken the photo that I forgot to add the chopped basil! I did toss it in at the end.