Creamy Vegan Pink Pasta (30 Minutes!)

Food

Fork of creamy vegan pink pasta

Pot of creamy vegan pink pasta with a spoon in it
Pot of creamy vegan pink pasta with a spoon in it

Holding a spoonful of vegan pink penne pasta above a Dutch oven with more pasta

Pink pasta?! When we heard about this creamy, vibrant dish, we knew we had to give a plant-based version a try! Spoiler alert? Major success! 

Rich, savory tomato sauce pairs with vegan cashew cream and noodles for the most comforting bowl of goodness. Just 10 ingredients and 30 minutes required for this weeknight-friendly main or side. Let’s make pasta!

Cashews, nutritional yeast, tomato paste, olive oil, salt, penne noodles, garlic, onion, basil, and crushed tomatoes

Recipe Inspiration: Penne alla Vodka

This vegan pink pasta was inspired by Female Foodie’s recipe, which was inspired by an Italian restaurant in Newport Beach, California.

It’s similar to an Italian-American dish called penne alla vodka made with penne noodles coated in a creamy, tomatoey sauce with vodka added to prevent separation of the cream and tomatoes.

The exact origin of penne alla vodka is a bit of a mystery, but it became popular in Italy and the United States around the 1980s. You can learn more about the history of this delicious dish here. The following is an inspired, plant-based version without the vodka or dairy!

How to Make Vegan Pink Pasta

The savory base for this pink pasta sauce is a mix of sautéed onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes.

Spoonful of tomato paste in a pot of sautéed onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes

We add crushed tomatoes and tomato paste for their rich flavor and vibrant red color.

Pouring cashew cream from a blender into a pan of tomato sauce

And then homemade cashew cream for next-level richness and to turn the sauce a beautiful pink hue! The cashew cream is made by blending cashews and water, with nutritional yeast added for a subtle cheesiness that brings it all together.

Creamy pasta sauce made with cashews and tomatoes

All that’s left to do is add in the noodles, stir to coat, and enjoy! We love topping with fresh basil and vegan parmesan cheese for freshness and even more flavor.

Adding penne noodles to vegan pink pasta sauce

We hope you LOVE this pink pasta! It’s:

Savory
Sweet
Comforting
Cheesy
Vibrant
& Quick + easy to prepare!

It’s the perfect weeknight entrée any time you’re craving comfort in a bowl! Pair it with your favorite roasted veggies or salad for extra nutrition. It would be especially delicious with our Perfect Roasted Asparagus, Perfect Roasted Cabbage, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Reduction, or Vegan Caesar Salad with BBQ Sweet Potato Croutons.

More Delicious Vegan Pasta Recipes

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Two bowls of creamy vegan pink pasta next to a skillet with more pasta

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 20 minutes

Total Time 30 minutes

Servings 5 (Servings)

Course Entree, Side

Cuisine Gluten-Free, Vegan

Freezer Friendly 1 month

Does it keep? 3-4 Days

PASTA

  • Water for boiling
  • 1 Tbsp salt (for seasoning the water)
  • 12 ounces pasta of choice (penne is best here // gluten-free as needed // we like Jovial brand)

SAUCE

  • 3/4 cup raw cashews*
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (if oil-free, sub water and use more as needed)
  • 1 cup diced white or yellow onion
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced (~3 Tbsp minced)
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 ½ Tbsp tomato paste
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 ½ – 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup water (plus more for soaking)
  • Add 3/4 cup cashews (90 g // adjust amount if altering batch size) to a bowl and cover with at least 2 inches of water. Set aside to soak.

  • For the pasta, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.

  • Heat a large rimmed skillet (or large pot) over medium heat. Add olive oil and onions and cook until tender — about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and continue cooking until fragrant — about 30 seconds.

  • Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and salt and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and continue simmering for 10 minutes or until thickened.

  • When the pasta water is boiling, add the pasta and stir to prevent clumps. Cook to al dente according to package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup (120 ml) of pasta water and drain the pasta.

  • Drain cashews and add them to a high-speed blender with nutritional yeast and 1 cup (240 ml // adjust amount if altering batch size) of water. Blend until smooth and creamy.
  • To the tomato sauce, add cashew mixture and stir to combine. Add reserved pasta water a little at a time until it becomes a thick but pourable sauce. Taste and adjust, adding more tomato paste for tomato flavor, nutritional yeast for cheesiness, red pepper flakes for heat, or salt for overall flavor.

  • Add drained pasta to the sauce and stir to coat. It should be quite saucy and well coated. Serve warm and garnish with fresh basil and vegan parmesan cheese (optional).
  • Leftovers will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator up to 3-4 days. Sauce can be frozen up to 1 month.

*If cashew-free, you can sub full-fat coconut milk for the cashews and water, but sauce will have a slight coconut flavor.
*Adapted from Female Foodie.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with 12 ounces rice-based gluten-free penne and 1/4 tsp salt in the pasta water (since the full tablespoon isn’t absorbed into the pasta), and without optional ingredients.

Serving: 1 serving Calories: 458 Carbohydrates: 70.6 g Protein: 11.9 g Fat: 16.2 g Saturated Fat: 2.3 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 2.2 g Monounsaturated Fat: 8.6 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 634 mg Potassium: 542 mg Fiber: 6.1 g Sugar: 7.2 g Vitamin A: 259 IU Vitamin C: 12.6 mg Calcium: 54 mg Iron: 3.7 mg

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