Creamy Vegan Pink Pasta (30 Minutes!)

GFVGVDFNS
Jump to Recipe
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

Creamy Vegan Pink Pasta (30 Minutes!)

Creamy, cheesy, savory, and PINK vegan pasta! A quick and easy, plant-based, and oh-so-comforting side or main. Just 10 ingredients and 30 minutes required!
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Holding a wooden spoon of vegan pink pasta over a pan
5 from 15 votes
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

Ingredients

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)

FOR SERVING optional

Instructions

  • 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.

Video

Notes

*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.

Nutrition (1 of 5 servings)

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

Did You Make This Recipe?

Tag @minimalistbaker on Instagram and hashtag it #minimalistbaker so we can see all the deliciousness!

If you love this recipe...

Get Our Fan Favorites eBook Here!

Reader Interactions

Leave a Comment & Rating!

Have a question? Use ctrl+f or ⌘+f on your computer or the "find on page" function on your phone browser to search existing comments! Need help? Check out this tutorial!

My Rating:




  1. Natalie Smith says

    I can’t believe how heavenly and amazing this was. It was creamy & rich. So delicious. Hubby thought it was made with dairy.
    Your recipes never fail! Every single single recipe that I’ve made of yours has been so so yummy! Thank you minimalist Baker!

  2. Amanda says

    This was FANTASTIC. SUPER CREAMY, flavorful, came together quickly and I always have all these ingredients on hand. Going into the rotation! You hit it out of the park! (As always)

  3. Nevin says

    I made this for the first time last night. So happy I doubled the recipe because my toddlers loved it and my husband said it was restaurant quality. I’m excited to add this recipe to our rotation.

  4. Isabelle says

    This was incredible! My partner, who is normally quite skeptical of dairy free pasta, loved it so much I found him eating the leftovers over the sink that evening.

  5. Ruth says

    Delicious and super easy to make! The only “crushed” tomatoes I could find were fire roasted. It made for a fabulous flavor 😋
    Thank You 🙏🏼

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Ruth! Thank you for sharing! Next time, would you mind leaving a star rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! Xo

  6. Mara says

    Made this exactly as written and thoroughly enjoyed it! My crushed tomatoes were fire-roasted, which might have made the recipe even better! That Jovial penne is a wonder – thanks for the recommendation.

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Yay! We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Mara! Thank you for the lovely review and for sharing your modification! xo

    • Lisa Jewel says

      This was easy start to finish! Really loved it. Super creamy with a nice kick. I would not make this with coconut milk. Just fine the way it is. Will make again!

  7. Em says

    This is delicious! Perfect amount of heat, and added dried basil as it needed a little something extra (maybe because I didn’t use nutritional yeast). My toddler loved it too!

  8. Bri says

    Delicious! I was looking for a creamy vegan/GF pasta dish and this recipe happened to be in my email inbox. I followed the recipe as is and found it to be just what I was looking for: cheesy, a little heat, and wonderful flavor and texture. I did not have vegan parmesan on hand, but didn’t really need it. The fresh basil was a delicious addition before serving. Next time I think I’ll sauté Swiss chard and kale and adding it in. Yummy.

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Yay! How perfect! We’re so glad it was what you were hoping for. Thank you for sharing, Bri! xo

  9. Kelsi H says

    Hopped on here to figure something out for dinner and this was a huge win with the whole family! Adding it into the rotation :)

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Woohoo! So glad to hear the whole family enjoyed it! Thank you for the lovely review, Kelsi! xo

  10. Carla Sokol says

    This looks delicious but I cannot eat nuts or coconut products. Do you have another substitute suggestion?

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Carla, perhaps a mix of sunflower and hemp seeds? We haven’t tried it though. Let us know how it goes!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Sarah, for fresh tomatoes, we would recommend slicing a small “X” at the bottom of each tomato, blanching them in boiling water for 1 minute, then peeling. You should then be able to use them in place of the canned tomatoes. The flavor will vary based on the tomatoes you’re starting with, so keep in mind you can add more tomato paste for greater depth of flavor. Hope that helps! Let us know how it goes!

    • Michaluna says

      Hi, this looks so yummy! I only have a regular blender (Oster). Would it ruin my blender or do you think it wouldn’t work?

      • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

        Hi Michaluna, they shouldn’t ruin your blender, it would more be an issue of whether they can get fully creamy or if there will be little bits of cashews remaining. Another option is to sub full-fat coconut milk for the cashews and water, but the sauce will have a slight coconut flavor. Hope that helps!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Cora, we haven’t tried that, but think the flavor would be more bitter and the texture not as creamy. Perhaps sunflower seeds?