This vegan pasta al limone is a creamy and comforting meal that is bursting with lemon flavor! It's made with simple ingredients like garlic, milk, and of course, lemon, making it an easy, delicious, and affordable pasta dish. I promise that your entire family will love this meal! It is easy enough for a quick 30-minute weeknight dinner, but feels fancy enough for a date night.
I don’t know about you, but pasta always seems to hit the spot! It helps that it’s super versatile and you can make a million different pasta dishes. One of my very favorites is pasta al limone, which is bursting with lemon-y and cheesy flavors! What else do you need?
Read on to learn more about pasta al limone and how you can make my veganized version!
Origins of Pasta al Limone
With its fresh, zingy lemony flavor, pasta al limone has become a staple of southern Italy, particularly during the warmer weather seasons of late spring and summer.
The popularity of Sorrento lemons and the heavy production of lemons in Sicily mean that these two regions are particularly big consumers of pasta al limone.
Since it is often made during warmer weather, pasta al limone is frequently paired with a sparkling wine. These wines bring a bright acidity that complements the lemon flavor of the dish itself in delicious contrast with the creaminess of the cheesy pasta.
Many of these ingredients are vegan staples so you’ll probably already have a lot of these on hand!
- Pasta – You can use whatever pasta you like here. If you’re gluten-free, you’ll want to choose something like lentil pasta, chickpea pasta, or any other gluten-free pastas that you enjoy. As for shape, I personally prefer to use fettuccine, linguine, farfalle, or pappardelle, as the flatter, wider shape helps to hold more of the thick and creamy sauce!
- Vegan butter – Vegan butter has come a long way since I went vegan in 2015! For this recipe, it’s best if you find a vegan butter in stick form. Luckily, there are several brands that offer this now, including Miyoko’s and Earth Balance. There’s also Country Crock plant butter, which I’d recommend only if you can’t find the others as it contains palm oil.
- Olive oil – A staple of Mediterranean cuisine, olive oil works best for this Italian pasta recipe. That said, you’re welcome to substitute with any oil if you'd like.
- Garlic – Garlic is part of the allium family. If you’re averse to garlic, you can leave it out, but it really helps boost this recipe’s flavor! You could also substitute with shallots or onions if you prefer.
- Lemons and lemon zest – Lemons are well known for their vitamin C content and bright, zingy flavor. They’re the star of the show here, so be sure to buy the best lemons you can find. Meyer lemons—a hybrid of lemon and orange—will give you sweeter results, which you may prefer.
- White miso – White miso helps boost this dish's savory (umami) flavor. You could also try adding a bit of nutritional yeast if you don’t have any miso paste on hand.
- Plant milk – While you can simply choose whatever plant milk you have on hand, you’ll get a richer, more satisfying final product if you opt for a creamier plant milk rather than one that’s “thinner,” i.e. more watery. For this dish, I recommend oat milk.
- Pasta water – If this sounds weird to you, well you’re missing out on a classic kitchen hack! Finishing your pasta with a bit of pasta water helps thicken your sauce and bind it to the pasta. It makes a huge difference and easily makes your pasta game restaurant-level quality!
- Vegan parmesan cheese – We have some very solid options these days when it comes to vegan parmesan. My go-to is the Violife parmesan block, but I also love the Follow Your Heart parmesan shreds.
- Black pepper (optional) –Fresh cracked is ideal because it’s more aromatic and thus more flavorful.
- Red pepper flakes (optional) – Crushed red pepper comes from southern Italy, where it’s been used on pizza and pasta since the nineteenth century! It’s a delicious way to add a little bit of heat to a dish. If you’re averse to spicy food, just leave it out or add a small sprinkle.
Pro Tips for a Creamy Pasta al Limone
Here are some tips to help your cooking process go smoothly as possible:
- Prepare your ingredients in advance because the dish cooks quickly once you get going
- Use a little less water when cooking the pasta than you might normally. This will make the water starchier and help the sauce thicken up better
- Cook the pasta just before it’s al dente since you will finish cooking it in the sauce and pasta water
- Stay patient and keep stirring as the sauce emulsifies and the noodles take on all that yummy sauce
How to Make Vegan Pasta al Limone
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until just before it is al dente (we will cook the pasta even more in the sauce), and reserve 1 cup of pasta water.
When the pasta is nearly done cooking, melt the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.
Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, miso, milk, and ½ cup of pasta water to the pan. Bring the mixture to a low simmer and allow everything to infuse for 1-2 minutes.
Add the cooked pasta and parmesan cheese to the pan and mix continuously for 1-2 minutes until everything is emulsified and the mixture thickens.
Serve with parsley, red pepper flakes, and/or fresh cracked black pepper, and enjoy your cozy meal!
Here are some options you can add to your pasta to mix it up and make it your own!
- Vegan meatballs
- Fresh herbs (basil is my fave!)
- Veggies (e.g. peas, spinach, zucchini, etc.)
Why You'll Love This Recipe
This is the perfect recipe when you want some delicious pasta but want to mix it up from the usual suspects (like marinara or pesto). This is going to be one of your new favorites because it's...
- Simple – Not only is this a straightforward recipe to make, but it’s made with a lot of pantry staples, meaning you might very well have everything you already need on hand!
- Quick – You can whip this up in no time! The sauce takes just about as much time to put together as it takes to cook the pasta.
- Full of spring and summer flavor – The lemony zing of this pasta al limone gives it the perfect fresh flavors we crave in spring and summer as the weather heats up. Add some seasonal veggies to up the spring/summer flavor!
Let me know if you try this recipe for vegan pasta al limone, and if you do, I would love it if you left a rating and review below! Make sure you are also following along on Instagram and Pinterest for more food inspiration.
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