Basil Cream Pasta (Shh! It’s Vegan!)

I’m learning a few things about vegan eating.

Number one. It’s nearly impossible to do over lunch at IKEA.

Number two. It’s not as hard to do over lunch at a pizzeria. Just make sure the guy taking your order knows that “no cheese” includes “no feta.”

Number three. Cashews are king. They can do cuh-razy things. Like turn into a divine whippy cheesecake. Like make a creamy scrump pasta sauce.

Here’s how it goes for this pasta sauce. Everything in it is stuff you have in your pantry. If not, get the stuff in your pantry. Raw cashews are the most unusual ingredient here, but you can nab a bag of those from the Whole Foods bulk bin aisle. I buy the “raw cashew pieces” because I’m cheap like that.

This sauce is super quick and easy to make. It comes out of your blender tasting like a mild pesto, with creamy undertones and tons of flavor. I made a second batch and served Ezekiel Pita triangles for dipping, which was a big hit over here. It was like eating at the Olive Garden. Without all the junky fats and oils. And def without the price tag. Gosh. I really am cheap, aren’t I?!

Let’s pretend like I am, because tomorrow, when I hit up Banana Republic for a sequined tank for next week’s rockin’ Girls Night Out, I want to believe I’ve saved enough money to purchase that crap out of that thang.



Vegan Basil Cream Pasta


13.5 ounces coconut milk
1/2 cup raw cashews
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoons Earth Balance margarine
2 tablespoons crushed roasted garlic puree (I like the organic Earthbound Farms tube)
1 1.2 teaspoon salt
6 bunches of fresh basil (i.e. a really good, thick handful of fresh basil)
1 pound pasta, cooked


In an industrial-strength blender, puree the coconut milk, cashews, mustard, margarine, garlic puree, and salt until smooth and thick. Toss in the basil leaves and blend until very finely chopped and mixed together.

Pour the sauce over hot, fresh-cooked pasta. Stir to mix. Serve and enjoy!

NOTE: Don't have an industrial-strength blender like a Vita-Mix or Blendtec? Just cover your cashews with water, cover, then place in the fridge overnight. This will soften your cashews enough to puree in a less-than-stellar blender. Just drain and blend! Of course, if you're planned ahead enough, you can use this method with an industrial blender, as well!

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18 Responses to “Basil Cream Pasta (Shh! It’s Vegan!)”

  1. 1

    Apron Appeal on February 9, 2012 at 5:19 am Reply

    Someday I’m going to get over these jealousy issues I have with vegans. Nut’s are a no-go at my house so it makes dishes like this fall a little flat. This sounds fantastic.

  2. 2

    Bev Weidner on February 9, 2012 at 8:55 am Reply

    I am soooooo making this. And making out with it.

  3. 3

    Jany@SuperCuteCookies on February 9, 2012 at 8:57 am Reply

    You had me at Basil! I have to try this recipe, it sounds and looks so delicious!

  4. 4

    Adina Applebaum on February 9, 2012 at 9:14 am Reply

    Brooke, I’m LOVING all these vegan recipes! Checking your blog for something new and delicious is my favorite part of the day. Keep them coming (PLEASE!)

  5. 5

    Skye on February 9, 2012 at 10:24 am Reply

    Sadly, I am allergic to nuts. :( Someone needs to find a vegan, non-nut food that does magical creamy things too!

  6. 6

    Lindsey (Cafe Johnsonia) on February 9, 2012 at 12:46 pm Reply

    Brooke–I’m loving your vegan posts. I eat mostly vegan now (with the exception of a little goat cheese or an egg or two now and then). I want to shout to the world, “Vegan food is good! It’s not weird like you think it is!”

    You’re awesome.

  7. 7

    Florrie Nuttall on February 9, 2012 at 3:59 pm Reply

    You didn’t necessarily have me at Vegan…but you had me at basil. Now i’m off to see if there’s a basil plant somewhere that I can motor boat! But in all seriousness (as serious as you can be after just using the term motor boat)….this pasta looks really, REALLY good!

  8. 8

    Nichole C. on February 9, 2012 at 5:02 pm Reply

    This looks and sounds amazeballs!

  9. 9

    Abby on February 9, 2012 at 9:41 pm Reply

    Isa at recently posted a mac and cheeze recipe for the nut-allergic that uses sunflower seeds. Assuming you’re not allergic to seeds, you should check it out. I haven’t tried it, but it looks yummy.

  10. 10

    Northwest Kirsten on February 10, 2012 at 1:57 pm Reply

    Made this last night — couldn’t believe how fast it was! My family, including my exceptionally picky 13 year-old gobbled it. Thank you!

    Also, I found I didn’t need the whole recipe of pesto to generously coat my pound of pasta. Which led me to discover that the leftovers make an outrageously good bread dip. Finger. Lickin. Holy cow.

    Thanks, Brooke!

  11. 11

    Laura N. on March 8, 2012 at 8:15 pm Reply

    Hi- I just found your website and I’m so excited to try out your vegan recipes, as I am just recently attempting a vegan diet.. This one looked amazing, but mine didn’t turn out so amazing… I’m wondering, was this supposed to be made with CANNED coconut milk? Mine didn’t thicken AT ALL (I used ‘So Delicious’ milk), and I seem to remember seeing somewhere that you can thicken the canned stuff by blending?

  12. 12

    bexbz on June 17, 2012 at 6:50 pm Reply

    I made this tonight, but I roasted a whole bulb of garlic instead of using garlic puree (I didn’t have any, and I certainly had the time)
    I also skipped the dijon mustard because for some reason that’s all I can taste when I put that in my cream sauces.

    It’s quite nice! Exactly what I was craving, and I’ve been looking for something to do with my basil plant which has grown way way way way more than I can deal with.

    Thanks for sharing.

  13. 13

    Takeyah | Core Connection Lifestyle on August 12, 2012 at 4:28 pm Reply

    Thanks for sharing this sauce. I wanted to make a tomato sauce that wasn’t tomat0 + would turn up the notch on the cream. This did it!

  14. 14

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