Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add olive oil (1 Tbsp as original recipe is written), garlic (4 cloves as original recipe is written), mushrooms, and asparagus. Season with a healthy pinch each salt and pepper and stir.
Sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are slightly browned and the asparagus is tender. Remove from skillet and set aside. (If you prefer more tender asparagus, cook longer. If you prefer it with more bite, cook 2-3 minutes.)
At this time, bring a large pot of water to a boil and season generously with sea salt. Add pasta and cook according to package instructions, then drain and set aside.
Lower heat on the skillet to low and add olive oil (2 Tbsp as original recipe is written) and minced garlic (4 cloves as original recipe is written). Sauté for 2-3 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside.
To a blender add remaining raw minced garlic (2 cloves as original recipe is written), sautéed garlic (4 cloves as original recipe is written), vegan cream cheese, almond milk, vegan parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, red pepper flake, and another healthy pinch sea salt and black pepper.
Blend until creamy and smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more vegan parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast for cheesiness, raw garlic for zing, red pepper flake for heat, lemon juice for acidity/brightness, or salt for saltiness. Mix once more and add back to skillet.
Heat the sauce over medium heat to warm until slightly bubbly, then reduce heat to low to keep warm. Stir occasionally.
Add cooked drained pasta directly to the sauce along with sautéed asparagus and mushrooms. Toss to coat and enjoy immediately with additional vegan parmesan cheese. Fresh parsley would also make a fresh, colorful garnish.
Best when fresh, though leftovers keep in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop, adding a bit of almond milk if it’s dried out.
*My new go-to gluten-free penne is by the brand Bionaturae. But I also love Trader Joe's gluten-free fusilli. *My favorite vegan cream cheeses are by Tofutti and Trader Joe's. But if you can't find vegan cream cheese, you can try subbing 1 cup soaked cashews in its place. However, I haven't tested the recipe this way and can't guarantee the results. For other similar options, check out my Best Vegan Gluten-Free Mac 'n' Cheese. *Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated without additional vegan parmesan cheese.