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Creamy Vegan Basil Cashew Pasta is a decadent lesson in just how delicious going dairy-free can be. Roasted garlic is blended with an array of mouthwatering ingredients like fresh basil and cashew sauce to create the sauce, which all gets tossed with pasta, broccoli, zucchini, and more.
Meatless meals have never, ever been this good. Seriously, skip the salads and treat yourself to the best of veganism with this Creamy Vegan Basil Cashew Pasta! It’s loaded with all of the best, ripest summer veggies, and smothered with the most incredible homemade sauce.
I really can’t overstate just how amazing the sauce is. First of all, anything with roasted garlic is going to be good – that’s just a given! When that roasted garlic is blended to a smooth, creamy consistency with ingredients like fresh basil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and cashew sauce, true magic happens. It’s so decadent, your guests will never guess that it’s dairy-free!
This is one of my favorite recipes to whip up when fresh basil is plentiful. With the flavors of summer, I love that I can sink my teeth into a hearty pasta dish like this one! It’s loaded with plenty of veggies, made with a dairy-free sauce, and you can use any pasta of choice that’s vegan, gluten free, etc.
What You’ll Need:
For the sauce, you’ll need:
- Cashew Sauce – Use my favorite recipe for Vegan Cashew Cream Sauce!
- Lemon Juice – Freshly squeezed only, not the bottled stuff.
- Milk – Use a plant based milk of choice like cashew, almond, oat, or coconut.
- Roasted Garlic – Here’s How to Roast Garlic.
- Basil – Use fresh, not dried basil.
- Salt and Pepper – For this recipe, I like to go light on the salt, but heavy on the freshly cracked black pepper.
Here’s what you need for the pasta:
- Pasta – I recommend a penne or rigatoni pasta for this dish.
- Pasta Water – Don’t forget to reserve some when you drain your pasta!
- Olive Oil – You can use avocado oil if preferred.
- Vegetables – A mix of onions, broccoli, zucchini, kale, and red pepper give this pasta its incredibly fresh flavor!
- Walnuts – These may seem odd, but you’re going to love the crunch they provide here.
- Seasonings – Salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes are all added for a little extra flavor.
How to Make Creamy Vegan Basil Cashew Pasta
For more detailed instructions, scroll to the bottom of this post.
Blend. Add all of the ingredients for the sauce to a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth.
Cook the pasta. Prepare the pasta according to the package instructions, and remember to reserve some pasta water for later.
Sauté the veggies. Start off by cooking the onions, then toss in the broccoli, followed by the zucchini. The last veggie to be tossed in should be the kale. Once the kale starts to wilt, remove the pan from the heat.
Toss it all together. Toss the pasta, red peppers, cooked veggies, and sauce together. Season however you’d like.
Garnish, and enjoy! Sprinkle the finely chopped walnuts and basil on top of your pasta, serve immediately, and enjoy!
How long will Creamy Vegan Basil Cashew Pasta stay fresh? While this pasta is best enjoyed immediately, it’ll stay fresh in an airtight container in the fridge for about 3 days.
How much pasta water should I reserve? I always reserve about a cup of water to be safe. The type of pasta you use will help determine how much water you’ll actually need. Pasta with holes, like penne, typically needs less reserved water than spaghetti.
You don’t need to be vegan to enjoy these meatless recipes!
Creamy Vegan Basil Cashew Pasta
For the sauce:
- ¾ cup (178 ml) cashew sauce
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons milk of choice, cashew, almond, oat, coconut
- 1 roasted head of garlic
- ½ packed cup fresh basil
- salt and pepper to taste
For the pasta:
- 12 ounces (340 g) pasta of choice, I recommend penne or rigatoni for this dish
- 1 cup (¼ l) reserved pasta water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup (80 g) minced onion
- 3 cups (273 g) broccoli florets
- 1 medium zucchini, sliced into ribbons with a vegetable peeler, about 2 cups
- 1 ½ cup (101 g) shredded kale
- 1 roasted red pepper, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup (6 g) fresh basil
- ¼ cup (29 g) walnuts
- Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, fresh basil
- To roast a head of garlic, follow instructions here.
- Squeeze the roasted cloves of garlic out of the head of garlic and into the blender. Add the cashew sauce, lemon juice, milk, and basil, along with about ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Blend until the sauce is creamy, then add additional salt and pepper to taste.
- Prepare your pasta according to package instructions. When the pasta is al dente, drain the pasta and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water, discarding the rest.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 3-4 minutes, or until the onion is very soft. Add the broccoli florets and saute until they just begin to become tender. Cut the ends off of a zucchini and use a vegetable peeler to create long ribbons across the length of the zucchini. Add the zucchini ribbons to the pan along with a pinch of salt and stir to encourage the zucchini to soften. Toss in the shredded kale and stir until wilted, then remove the pan from the heat.
- Add the red pepper slices and drained pasta to the pan, then pour in the basil sauce. Toss to combine and add the reserved pasta water ¼ cup at a time until the sauce reaches the consistency of your liking. Add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.
- Finely chop the remaining basil and walnuts together on a cutting board. Sprinkle the basil and walnut mixture on top of the pasta and serve with more black pepper and fresh basil.
- The amount of pasta water you’ll add will partially depend on the type of pasta you use. Pasta that has holes and holds more water like penne will need less water than something like spaghetti or farfalle.
- I recommend adding a Lot of fresh black pepper to this dish. It will seem like overkill as you’re adding it, but will bring texture and flavor to the sauce.
- I really recommend penne or rigatoni for this dish. I used a gluten-free rice pasta (Jovial) which I recommend over a chickpea or bean-based pasta. Regular wheat pasta would be fine too if you aren’t GF.
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