Whole-wheat penne and kale tossed in vegan sun-dried tomato vodka sauce. This virtuously hearty, plant-based pasta is weeknight-friendly and kid-approved.
The Best Vegan Vodka Sauce:
When all you want is a bowl of creamy pasta, let this recipe be the answer. I like to think of it as a healthier, adult (yet kid-friendly) version of vodka sauce, but with Mediterranean flair.
The velvety sauce gets its luscious creaminess from blended cashews, while sun-dried tomatoes add a bright punch of flavor. Every time I cook with sun-dried tomatoes, I'm quickly reminded how much I appreciate their intense flavor and delicate sweetness. In addition to blending them into sauces, they're also divine tossed in salads or used as a crostini topper.
What is Nutritional Yeast?
In short, nutritional yeast is a dairy-free seasoning especially favored by vegans for its savory, cheesey flavor. I use nutritional yeast the same way I would grated cheese; for example, tossed in salads, stirred into soups, or sprinkled over pasta.
Nutritional yeast is sodium-free and actually packs a hefty bit of protein into each serving. Additionally, many brands are fortified with vitamin B12, an essential vitamin for maintaining healthy nerve cells and preventing a certain type of anemia.
What to Eat with Vodka Sauce:
This recipe is endlessly riffable using your favorite protein or vegetables. For example, if you're not trying to keep it plant-based, add ground sausage, grilled chicken, or even shrimp. Additionally, it's delicious with sautéed mushrooms and tempeh for a jolt of plant-based protein.
And if you wind up with leftover sauce, use it in anything from salads and grain bowls to a meat or fish topper. It's versatile flavor compliments just about any protein, vegetable, or grain you pair it with.
If you make this recipe, be sure to tag #dishingouthealth so I can see your beautiful creations!
More Healthy Pasta Recipes:
Pasta with Vegan Vodka Sauce
- ⅓ cup raw cashews
- 1 cup warm water
- ½ cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
- 3 Tbsp. nutritional yeast or grated parmesan cheese if not making plant-based
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- ¾ tsp. kosher salt
- ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lb. whole-wheat penne or pasta of choice
- 3 cups roughly chopped lacinato kale
- Fresh basil for garnish
- Soak cashews in 1 cup warm water for 20 minutes.
- Transfer cashews and soaking water to a blender. Add sun-dried tomatoes, nutritional yeast (or cheese), lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper; blend until smooth.
- Cook pasta according to package instructions in salted water. Reserve 1 cup pasta water; drain remaining. Transfer cooked pasta back to pot and place back on burner with heat turned off; add ½ cup reserved pasta water and kale; toss pasta continuously for about 1 minute, until kale begins to wilt. Alternate adding cashew sauce and remaining pasta water, stirring continuously, until sauce coats noodles and desired level of creaminess is achieved. (Note: you may not end up using all of reserved pasta water or sauce, but better to have extra.) Divide pasta evenly onto each of 5 plates. Garnish with additional chopped cashews and fresh basil, if desired.