A Healthy Mediterranean Diet Swap- Dump Cream Based Pasta Sauces For Puttanesca Sauce

Pasta and starches are generally part of the Mediterranean diet. That doesn’t mean jumbo servings of pasta with creamy sauces but rather pasta with vegetable based sauces instead. Everyone can enjoy a moderate amount of pasta and still maintain their weight or blood sugar levels. However, the reality is that we are eating too many starches and not enough vegetables and fish.

Well, this dish comes to the rescue: puttanesca sauce combines all the quintessential Mediterranean diet ingredients: tomato, olives, capers, garlic and anchovies. These are cooked in a small amount of olive oil and the sauce is then combined with pasta.

The tomatoes along with the garlic will give you a good dose of antioxidants while the anchovies provide protein and are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids helping to balance out the carbs you get from the pasta. Now most Italian recipes call for about 3 ounces of uncooked pasta per person, and that’s ok, but I would recommend consuming more of the sauce and less of the pasta (which is how I like it anyway). That way you get much more of the good stuff and less of the carbs. In our recipe below, the amount of pasta in relation to the sauce is only a suggestion. Feel free to use more or less.

Not only is this healthy, it is also simple, as you are pretty much cooking with ready-to-use non-perishable ingredients. And it is quick: you basically sauté the ingredients a bit, boil the pasta and you are done. So keep these ingredients in your pantry and you can make a nice, hearty and healthy meal in no time. And YES, your kids will love Puttanesca Pasta as well!


8 ounces whole-wheat thin spaghetti, vermicelli or angel hair
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup pitted chopped Spanish or Greek olives
2 tablespoons capers
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, preferably “no salt added” or fresh diced tomatoes, time providing
3/4 cup chopped fresh arugula
1/4 cup grated Parmesan


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add pasta and cook according to the directions on the package.

2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over a medium flame. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the parsley, olives, capers, anchovy paste, oregano and crushed red pepper to the skillet, and saute for 2 minutes more.

3. Add the tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in the arugula and simmer for 1 minute more, until the greens wilt slightly.

4. When the pasta is done, drain it and add it to the skillet, tossing it with the sauce to combine. Top with grated cheese.

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