This best creamy vegan tomato pasta sauce (Penne alla Vodka) is made in under 10 minutes, using simple ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes and cashew cream! Serve this healthy and rich dairy-free tomato sauce with your favorite regular or gluten-free pasta, and you’ll have the perfect quick and easy weeknight dinner in minutes!
Nothing seems more comforting than a big bowl of pasta that is tossed in a creamy tomato sauce and topped with vegan parmesan cheese, right? I really love it when I have a quick lunch or dinner recipe on hand that is not only super simple but also incredibly delicious! Basically, you just need to cook some pasta, blend up the cashew cream tomato sauce and enjoy with fresh basil. It couldn’t be easier!
Best Vegan Tomato Cream Pasta Sauce
Anyway, this luscious vegan tomato cream pasta has been my go-to dish to make on busy weeknights. I usually make extra, and then use the leftover sauce for other dishes. While I’ve already shared a similar cashew pasta recipe here on the blog, this one is inspired by the popular Penne alla Vodka made with sun-dried tomatoes!
What I also love about this flavorful tomato sauce is, that it is not only perfect for pasta but also for pizza, lasagna or any dishes that require tomato sauce! Indeed I highly recommend making a larger batch of this sauce, so you can serve it over pasta the first night and then store leftovers in the fridge for future meals!
Ingredients for Penne alla Vodka
Traditional Italian Penne alla Vodka is usually made with heavy cream but I used dairy-free cashew cream instead. Also, I substitute olive oil for butter, and vegan parmesan made with nutritional yeast flakes for regular cheese. The other ingredients in this sauce are canned tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, and vodka (optional).
If you’re making this tomato cream pasta sauce with vodka, don’t worry about the alcohol as most of it will boil off during cooking. Actually, the alcohol is just added to traditional Italian pasta sauce, stew or soup recipes to bring out the more intense aromas and flavors. This is why saucy tomato recipes often call for adding a bit of wine, beer or vodka to make them even more delicious. However, if you do not want to add any alcohol, feel free to skip it! The tomato sauce will be still amazing!
Can I substitute the cashews?
Feel free to use another nut variety like almonds or macadamia nuts if you don’t like cashews. Or, if you have a nut allergy, you can use sunflower seeds or substitute full-fat coconut milk for the cashew cream.
If not using a high-speed blender, I recommend soaking the cashews (or seeds) in water for 3 hours or overnight. Additionally, to speed this up you can also boil them for about 10 minutes to soften them up. This makes it easier to blend any nuts or seeds into super silky and smooth dairy-free cream.
How to make Vegan Tomato Cream Sauce
This Vegan Tomato Cream Pasta alla Vodka sauce recipe is easy to make with only a few simple ingredients in just 10 minutes! (Soaking time and pasta cooking time not included).
Start by cooking the pasta to al dente, reserving about 1/3 cup of the cooking water to use for the sauce. In the meantime, sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent and fragrant. Then, pour in the vodka if using and cook for a few minutes over high heat. When most of the liquid has evaporated, transfer to a blender along with the canned tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, tomato paste, cashew nuts, and oregano. Blend until smooth and creamy, then pour the tomato sauce back into the skillet or saucepan. Add the reserved pasta cooking water and simmer until thickened to desired consistency. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of chili to taste.
If you will be making the sauce ahead of time, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water just before serving. Then drain and toss with the tomato cream sauce. If the sauce is too thick, simply add a bit of the starchy pasta cooking water as this makes the tomato alfredo sauce creamier. Garnish with vegan parmesan and fresh basil or other toppings you like and enjoy hot!
This Vegan Tomato Cream Pasta alla Vodka is
- Dairy-free (lactose-free)
- Quick & easy to make
- Can be made gluten-free
- Can be made nut-free
- Perfect for any pasta variety, including gluten-free penne or grain-free lentil pasta
Looking for more quick and easy vegan Pasta Recipes? Be sure to check out the following:
- Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Sauce
- Vegan Broccoli Mac and Cheese
- Creamy Pumpkin Alfredo Pasta
- Sweet Potato Pasta Sauce
- Spinach and Mushroom Pasta
- Vegan Carbonara with Spaghetti
- Lentil Zucchini Lasagna
- Vegan Lentil Bolognese
- Creamy Tomato Pasta Napoli
If you try this creamy Vegan Tomato Pasta Recipe, please leave a comment and rating! Your feedback is always very helpful for me and other readers who are planning to try the recipe. And if you take a photo of your creamy pasta dish, please make sure to tag me on Instagram @biancazapatka #biancazapatka because I love seeing your remakes! Happy cooking!
Best Vegan Tomato Cream Pasta
- 8,8 oz penne or other (regular or gluten-free) pasta
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil I used the soaking oil of the sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 onion diced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- ¼ cup vodka optional
- 1 14 oz can peeled tomatoes 400g
- ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes soaked in oil, drained
- 1 tbsp tomato paste optional
- ½ cup cashew nuts soaked (*see notes)
- 1 tsp oregano dried
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pinch of chili powder or smoked paprika (optional)
- ⅓ cup water I used reserved pasta cooking water as the starchy water makes the sauce creamier
To Serve (optional)
- vegan parmesan
- fresh basil
- Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water according to package instructions. Then drain the cooking water, but reserve about 1/3 cup of the water to use for the sauce.
- In the meantime, heat the oil in a skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook for another minute until fragrant.
- Optional step: Pour in the vodka and cook for 2-3 minutes over high heat, or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Then transfer to a blender along with the canned tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, tomato paste, cashew nuts, and oregano and blend until smooth and creamy.
- Pour the sauce back to the pan, add the reserved cooking water and simmer until thickened to desired consistency. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of chili to taste.
- When the pasta is cooked to al dente, toss the pasta with the sauce. Garnish with vegan parmesan and fresh basil or other toppings you like and enjoy hot!
- Vodka: Most of the alcohol will boil off during cooking, but it brings out the more intense aromas and flavors which makes the sauce even more delicious! Instead of vodka, you can also use wine or omit it completely. Simply skip step 3.
- Cashews: If you don't have a high-speed blender, I recommend soaking the cashews in water for 3 hours (up to overnight), or boil them for 10 minutes. Then rinse and drain. This will make them softer and easier to blend into a smooth cream. Alternatively, substitute store-bought cashew butter or other nut butter.
- Nut-free option: You can also use sunflower seeds instead of cashew nuts or substitute your favorite dairy-free cream or coconut milk for the cashew cream.
- Make ahead: If making the sauce ahead, cook the pasta just before serving.
- Please read my blog post for further information on this recipe.
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