Spicy Tomato Sauce with Olives, Capers and Chard

I love puttanesca sauce. It’s so salty, so bitter, so rich.  I love the way the anchovies melt into an oily umami paste with the tomatoes and coat each piece of pasta. However, I don’t feel great about eating this kind of pasta sauce on a regular basis. What I’ve tried to create here is a spicy, meaty sauce that is flavorful and satisfying as well as super healthy. Serve with polenta for a delicious gluten-free meal.

While greens are hardly a stand-in for the buttery richness of anchovies, they are delicious and healthy. (The other day my dad half-jokingly asked me, “But how did man live before kale?”) Much better for an everyday sort of pasta sauce. Try using whatever greens you have or are in season. Spinach will take less time to cook than chard, and kale will take a bit longer. Feel free to chop of the ribs and use those, too. If you don’t have spring onions, you can use regular onion, scallions or leeks, or just not worry about it, because there is probably enough onion flavor in your sauce already. If you’re using canned sauce or not simmering for very long, try adding a bit of veggie bouillon to deepen the flavor without increasing cooking time.

Spicy Tomato Sauce with Olives, Capers and Chard

Time commitment: 40 minutes
Makes: about 4 cups of sauce (enough for 4-6 servings of pasta/polenta)


  •  4 cups Basic Marinara (or plain marinara sauce, like the kind they have in big cans at Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bunch spring onions, washed, trimmed and sliced into thin rounds (or chop a small white onion, or a bunch of scallions, or a couple small leeks)
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, washed, pulled off stems, and chopped into thin ribbons
  • 1 small can sliced black olives, drained and chopped (you could alternatively use a handful of kalamata olives)
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained and chopped
  • 2-6 dashes red pepper flakes
  • pasta or polenta for serving


  1. Prepare your onions, greens, olives and capers. Heat up olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions (if using) and saute, stirring, till they begin to caramelize. Add greens and stir gently, turning over, so they wilt at an even pace. When wilted, add olives and capers. Cook till there’s no more liquid in the pan. Add tomato sauce and red pepper flakes, stir to combine.
  2. Once sauce is boiling, reduce to a low simmer and cook till the greens are tender, 10-30 minutes depending on what kind of greens you used. Serve over pasta or fried polenta cakes. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers.
This entry was posted in dinner, gluten-free, gluten-free option, recipe, sauce and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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