Vegetarian Puttanesca Sauce with Karengo, the Nori from New Zealand

Vegetarian Puttanesca with Karengo seaweed

This adaptation of ‘PUTTANESCA’ from the traditional Neapolitan recipe is an affordable, spicy dish intended for quick preparation. The anchovies are replaced by Karengo, a seaweed from New Zealand’s South Island. When Karengo is exposed to moisture in cooking, its flavour becomes very similar to mild anchovy.

So there you go…here’s a trick to turn many of your favourite Mediterranean/anchovy dishes vegetarian whilst adding concentrated amounts of minerals & vitamins to your meal. Find out more about why seaweed are good for you.


INGREDIENT (serves 6):

New Zealand Karengo


2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chopped garlic
10g dried Karengo fronds or flakes
1 large onion, chopped
1 red capsicium (optional roasted capsicum for richer flavour)
1 fresh hot chilli, diced
2 large tins of Italian plum tomatoes
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp finely chopped fresh oregano
2 tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley
1 small bottle of capers, drained & rinsed
12 imported black olives, pitted & cut in quarters
12 imported green olives, sliced
Tabasco or hot pepper sauce to taste


Ingredients for Vegetarian Puttanesca



In a saucepan, heat olive oil and gently sauté the garlic with the Karengo for 5 minutes on medium heat, until the oil is infused with the flavours. Add the onion & capsicum and cook for 5 more minutes while stirring. Add the tomatoes and their juice, smashing them coarsely. Sprinkle over the chilli, black pepper, oregano, parsley and capers; cook uncovered for 15-20 minutes. Add the chopped olives and cook 5 minutes longer for the flavours to integrate. Taste and add hot pepper sauce if desired.


Vegetarian Puttanesca gains in nutrition without compromises on taste or visual appeal !


Boil 20g of Sea Spaghetti for 10 minutes until al dente. (The longer you boil the more flavour you lose.)
Separately, cook 200g pasta (I mostly choose fettuccini to mix with sea spaghetti as they have a very similar shape) in salted water brought to a ‘rolling boil’ and keep the heat high to bring the water back to the boil as quickly as possible.
This will ‘set’ the outside of the pasta and prevent sticking.
Stir with a long wooden spoon 2-3 times during cooking to help the pasta cook evenly.
Always cook the pasta uncovered at a fast boil until ‘al dente’. The only way to judge this is by tasting but most dried pastas will cook in 8-12 minutes, fresh pasta in 4-5 minutes.
Drain immediately into a large colander and shake well to remove excess water. DO NOT rinse unless the recipe says to do so because the starch that makes the pasta stick to itself also helps the sauce stick to the pasta.
Traditionally, the drained pasta is immediately placed in the pan the sauce is in and the two are combined; this serves to keep the pasta warm.
Serve immediately to warmed plates or cover and allow the pasta to absorb the sauce a little.

Click to find out more about Karengo and Sea Spaghetti.


Culinary tips:

Karengo also pairs really well with roasted nuts & seeds to make a wonderfully nutritious and savoury snack. Its lovely purple hues add visual interest to fruit salsas intended to garnish grilled fish!

Wellness tips:
In Chinese medicine, this specie of seaweed has applications for edema, urinary infections and sore throat. Karengo is also wonderfully tonic and is excellent to alkalinize & re-mineralise the body. It is said that the polyphenols present in purple foods may enhance brain health & function.


Vegetarian Puttanesca on Sea Spaghetti & Fettuccini





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