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A close-up overhead shot of creamy vegan pasta in a white skillet, topped with basil leaves and lemon wedges.

Veggie-Loaded Vegan Pasta with Basil Cashew Cream

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.9 from 51 reviews
  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: Pasta Dishes, Vegan Recipes
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian-Inspired
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Creamy Vegan Pasta ready in 25 minutes or less! Perfectly al dente vegan pasta tossed with sautéed bell pepper, broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, and an easy homemade lemony basil creamy vegan pasta sauce made from cashews. The easiest healthy pasta recipe – totally dairy-free, vegan and filled with veggies!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 8 ounces fusilli or pasta of choice (see Recipe Notes)
  • 1 small head broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets (approx. 8 ounces or 3 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes (see Recipe Notes)
  • 4 ounces baby arugula
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste

for the lemon basil cashew cream sauce:

  • 1 cup roasted, unsalted cashews
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ lemon, juiced (approx. 2-3 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Boil the pasta and blanch the broccoli: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, generously season the water with salt. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, to al dente according to package directions. About 2 minutes before the pasta is al dente, add the broccoli florets to the pot, blanching them as the pasta finishes cooking. Once the pasta reaches al dente, carefully dip a liquid measuring cup into the pot, reserving about 1 cup of starchy pasta water, & set aside. Drain the pasta and broccoli – but do not rinse – and set aside. (Learn more! How to Cook Pasta Perfectly Every Single Time!) An overhead shot of pasta noodles and broccoli boiling in a large white pot upon a grey textured surface.
  2. Prepare the lemon basil cashew cream sauce: Meanwhile, prepare the vegan basil cream sauce. Add all listed ingredients to a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender canister as needed. Set aside, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. An overhead shot of water being poured into the bowl of a food processor containing cashews, basil, garlic, salt and pepper on a white textured surface.
  3. Soften the vegetables: Meanwhile, soften the remaining vegetables. Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot & shimmering, stir in the onion and bell pepper. Season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and ground black pepper if desired. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies soften slightly, 3-4 minutes. Once softened, stir in the sun-dried tomatoes and cook until softened slightly, 1-2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat. An overhead shot of chopped onions, bell pepper and sundried tomatoes in a white skillet atop a grey textured surface.
  4. Finish the creamy vegan pasta: Add the drained pasta, blanched broccoli, and arugula to the skillet with the softened vegetables. Pour the lemon basil cashew cream sauce over top. Toss to combine well, adding a little of the reserved starchy pasta water as you go to reach your desired consistency. Taste and season with additional salt or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, as desired. Serve immediately. Enjoy! An overhead shot of creamy vegan pasta in a white skillet atop a grey textured surface. Dishes of salt, pepper and lemon wedges sit alongside the skillet.

Notes

Jess’ Tips and Tricks:

  • Pasta: Feel free to use whatever pasta you like – any short or long pasta works great! I’m particularly fond of the way the creamy cashew sauce gets trapped in the twirly spirals of fusilli – it makes every bite a little more creamy, flavorful, & crave-worthy. Cavatappi, rigatoni, shells, and bucatini are all great choices too.
  • Sun-dried tomatoes: I like using dry sun-dried tomatoes (vs. oil-packed) for this recipe as they help prevent the cashew cream sauce from getting oily. The 3-ounce bags of sliced sun-dried tomatoes at Trader Joe’s work really well for this recipe. If you can only find jarred, oil-packed tomatoes, be sure to drain the oil and pat the tomatoes dry before adding them to the pasta. This recipe uses about ½ of an 8-ounce jar.
  • 15-Minute Meal Prep: Most of the active prep time involved in making this pasta recipe comes from prepping the vegetables and lemon basil cashew cream sauce. Either or both can be done in advance to help reduce the amount of hands-on prep needed at dinnertime. Here’s what you’ll do:
    • Prep the lemon basil cashew cream sauce according to Step 2 of Recipe Directions, above. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. (5 minutes active prep)
    • Prep the veggies: Chop 1 small head broccoli into bite-sized florets, dice 1 medium red bell pepper, and finely dice enough sun-dried tomatoes to yield ⅓ cup. Store in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. (10 minutes active prep)

Storage and Reheating:

Leftover creamy vegan pasta will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for 3-4 days. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave, adding an extra splash of water or cooking stock to loosen up the lemon basil cashew cream sauce as needed, until warmed through.