This vegan creamy tomato pasta is perfect when you’re craving comfort food. It’s easy to make and the sauce is so luscious and satisfying. It’s impressive enough to serve to guests (especially if you dress it up with a garnish of fresh herbs and add some extra veggies) but it also works as a casual weeknight meal.
The oil-free, creamy vegan tomato sauce gets its luxurious texture from cashews that have been soaked and blended. Use unsalted cashews (or if you must use salted cashews then you can omit or reduce the salt in the recipe according to taste). Either raw or roasted cashews will work.
I used fresh cherry tomatoes in this recipe because they’re so sweet and flavorful, but you can substitute any other type of fresh tomatoes. Or if tomatoes aren’t in season, you can substitute canned tomatoes (just be sure to omit or reduce the salt in the recipe according to your taste if the canned tomatoes contain salt).
You can use whichever type of pasta suits your dietary requirements. Any shape will do. There are so many delicious gluten-free pasta varieties available these days. My favorite varieties are chickpea pasta, rice pasta, lentil pasta, and corn pasta.
I recommend using fresh garlic in this sauce but if you don’t have fresh garlic then you can substitute jarred chopped garlic.
I like to garnish this dish with some fresh basil. You can substitute other fresh herbs such as parsley or chives if you prefer. I also like to sprinkle on some crushed red pepper flakes for a little spice but you can skip them if you’re not a fan of spicy.
How to make this
This vegan creamy tomato pasta is easy to make. Start by soaking the cashews in boiling water. Add the cashews to a bowl, then pour the boiling water on top (make sure they’re completely submerged in water). Let the cashews soak for at least one hour, but up to twelve hours is okay too so feel free to do this step in advance.
When the cashews have finished soaking, strain them and discard the water, then rinse them well.
Begin cooking the pasta according to the instructions on the package. While the pasta is cooking, add the cashews, tomatoes, garlic, cold water, and salt to a blender or food processor.
Blend/process until the sauce is smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender or food processor as necessary. Be sure to pause every 30 seconds or so to ensure the machine doesn’t overheat. It will likely take a few minutes to achieve a smooth and creamy consistency.
When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it and add it back to the pot you cooked it in, then pour the sauce on top and mix to coat the pasta with sauce. Cook the pasta with the sauce on low-medium heat on the stove for 2-3 minutes, just to heat everything up and allow the raw garlic to cook.
Remove the pot from the heat, then garnish the pasta with fresh basil and/or crushed red pepper flakes before serving, if desired.
Storage and leftovers
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.
For an extra flavor boost, and to turn this vegan creamy tomato pasta into a complete meal, add some caramelized mushrooms or balsamic roasted asparagus to this dish. Or toss some fresh baby spinach leaves into the pot when you’re heating up the pasta with the sauce.
More vegan dinner recipes
- These vegan stuffed mushrooms are filling, flavorful, and delicious.
- This pasta with tahini sauce is quick and easy to make.
- This quinoa with pesto is another flavorful, oil-free, vegan dinner idea.
Vegan Creamy Tomato Pasta
- Blender or food processor
- 3/4 pound gluten-free pasta (approximately 340g)
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes (or substitute any other type of fresh tomatoes)
- 1 cup cashews (unsalted)
- 1 cup boiling water (for soaking the cashews)
- 3/4 cup cold water
- 1 garlic clove
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Optional: garnish with fresh basil and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.
- Add the cashews to a small bowl, then add the boiling water (make sure the cashews are completely submerged in the water).
- Let the cashews soak for a minimum of 1 hour (a maximum of 12 hours is fine too).
- When the cashews are done soaking, strain and rinse them, discarding the liquid.
- Begin to cook the gluten-free pasta according the instructions on the package. Be sure to opt for the al dente timing because you’re going to be cooking the pasta with the sauce for a few extra minutes after you’ve drained it. If there is no al dente instructions on the package then subtract 1-2 minutes from the cooking time to ensure the final result isn’t overcooked.
- While the pasta is cooking, add the cashews to a blender or food processor along with the tomatoes, garlic, salt, and pepper, then blend until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the blender or food processor as necessary and pause every 30 seconds to ensure the machine doesn’t overheat. It may take a few minutes to get a very smooth consistency.
- Once the pasta has finished cooking, strain it and discard the water, then add the pasta back to the pot.
- Add the blended cashew tomato sauce to the pot with the pasta, then stir to coat the pasta with sauce.
- Place the pot on the stove set to low-medium heat and cook for 2-3 minutes to heat up the sauce and to allow the raw garlic to cook.
- Remove from the heat, then garnish with fresh chopped basil and/or crushed red pepper flakes, if desired, before serving.
- Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.