A rich and creamy vegan pink pasta sauce that would be a great vegan dinner idea for Valentine's Day or a romantic date night. Pasta lovers get ready to meet the ultimate comfort food!
It’s hard to beat a staple like pasta. It’s an easy meal that’s super customizable and filling as well, particularly this recipe with its extra boost of nutrition from beets and cashews!
This would be a great vegan dinner idea for Valentine’s Day or any other romantic date night thanks to its lovely color. I’m a total pasta addict, so really I’ll take any excuse to whip up this delicious recipe!
So, read on to learn how to make this lovely vegan pink pasta yourself!
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 fettucine, farfalle, or pappardelle, as the flatter, wider shape helps hold more of the thick and creamy sauce!
- Cashews – These nuts are sooo good for you! You get heart-healthy fats, a nice amount of plant-based protein, fiber, and more! The best part is they work as an incredible base for vegan recipes, especially when it comes to creating dips and sauces.
- Plant milk – While you can simply choose your preferred plant milk, you may get a richer beverage if you opt for a creamier plant milk rather than one that’s more “thin,” i.e. more watery. You might try oat milk, for example.
- Salt – If you try to be health-conscious like me, it can be tempting to skip or reduce the salt, but don’t! Adding even a little salt really helps bring out the other flavors.
- Beets – Beets are a nutritional powerhouse and used in this recipe for their rich color. These root vegetables pack a variety of benefits including nutrients such as folate, manganese, copper, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C and B6, and iron!
- 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.
- Shallots – Shallots are alliums. Allium vegetables are rich in organosulfur compounds, which research shows may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure!
- Black pepper – Black pepper is anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants! Fresh cracked is best because it’s more aromatic and thus more flavorful.
- Garlic – Garlic is also part of the allium family (see above regarding shallots). If you’re averse to garlic you can leave it out but it really helps boost this recipe’s flavor!
- 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 help it bind to the pasta. It makes a huge difference and is an easy way to make your pasta game restaurant-level quality!
- White sugar – You can substitute other types of sugar, but white sugar works well. You should know, however, that many white (and brown) sugars are not vegan-friendly (at least in the U.S.). This unfortunate issue is due to bone char. Luckily, you can find vegan-friendly white and brown sugar online if not in your preferred grocery stores.
- Dried basil and oregano – Basil and oregano are staples of Italian cuisine and they’re both super beneficial in terms of health. In general, they’re anti-inflammatory, provide antioxidants, and may help boost immunity!
- Red pepper flakes – 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 only a small sprinkle. Thanks to capsicum annuum, the plant that produces the peppers these flakes come from, you get a really nice punch of antioxidants!
Is this Penne Alla Vodka?
This recipe may have you wondering about similarities to penne alla vodka, which is a dish made with heavy cream. Due to adding cream (cashew cream in this recipe), both recipes feature a pink sauce due to the combination of red sauce and white cream.
This recipe, however, has more of a pink, Valentine’s Day color thanks to the use of a roasted beet rather than tomato paste. The cashews bring all the creaminess!
Fun fact: penne alla vodka hardly contains any actual vodka, plus so much of it is burned off during cooking that there’s hardly any in the finished product. This recipe doesn’t have any, but you’re welcome to add some, of course, if you’re so inclined.
How to Make Vegan Pink Pasta
- Soak your cashews ahead of time (see notes).
- Preheat your oven to 425°F. Place the beet in tin foil and drizzle a little olive oil and salt over it. Close the tin foil, and place it in a ramekin. Roast the beet for 50-60 minutes until the beet is fork-tender.
- Add the drained and rinsed cashews, beet*, and ¼ teaspoon salt to a blender, and blend until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
- Cook the pasta according to the box instructions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water for the sauce, then drain the pasta and set it aside.
- Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the shallot, black pepper, and remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt to the pan. Sauteed for about 5 minutes until the shallot is translucent and fragrant. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.
- Pour in the cashew cream, ½ cup of pasta water, sugar, basil, oregano, and red pepper to the pan. Mix until the sugar is dissolved and everything is warmed through (about 5 minutes).
- Add the cooked pasta and mix until all of the noodles are coated in the sauce. You can add more pasta water here to get your desired consistency.
- Top with any optional garnishes and enjoy!
What can you add to this vegan pink pasta?
Well, anything you like! You can’t go wrong, though, with roasted or steamed vegetables. Veggies such as asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, etc. really add a hearty and elegant touch. If you happen to love traditional penne alla pasta, you can also add a touch of vodka (or wine) during the cooking process.
What type of noodles work best for this recipe?
Totally up to you and your preferences! In general, penne pasta is a nice choice as it’s a common choice for pink pastas like penne alla vodka. That said, I personally prefer wider, flatter shapes like fettuccine, pappardelle, and farfalle, as they’re perfect at soaking up the thick and creamy sauce!
Can I prep this ahead of time?
Good question! You can definitely prep the cashew/beet cream sauce beforehand if you want to reduce your overall cooking time when you do the pasta. You can even prep the entire sauce ahead of time and then you’ll just need to heat it and add it to your pasta when you’re ready.
Can I use other nuts than cashews?
Cashews are very common in vegan recipes because they make for a delightfully creamy base. You’ll find them in recipes for all kinds of dips, sauces, and spreads. I personally haven’t tried this recipe with any other kind of nut so I can’t vouch for any alternatives.
What do you garnish this pasta with?
Fresh herbs are always amazing as a garnish for pasta dishes. I like to do fresh parsley, fresh basil, panko breadcrumbs, and vegan parmesan. Yum!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
This is the perfect recipe for bringing a little romance to the dinner table as it’s warm, cozy, and delightfully pink! I know you'll love it because it's...
- Warm – It’s hard to beat some tasty warm pasta for cozy vibes on a cold night!
- Romantic – Whip this up for Valentine’s Day or any other night to help add a romantic touch to your dinner plate!
- Simple – Not only is this a fairly easy 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!
- Filling – Thanks to the cashews and pasta, this pasta recipe packs a whopping 16 grams of plant-based protein per serving! Protein, fiber, and the carbohydrates help make this a very satisfying and satiating dish.
- It’s easily customizable – Add whatever you want to this, whether that’s a touch of wine or vodka while cooking, your favorite vegetables, plant-based meat, etc.
Let me know if you try this vegan pink pasta, 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.
Looking for more vegan entrees? Try one of these:
- Tofu Poke Bowl
- Pumpkin Pasta
- Grilled Tofu Burger
- Mediterranean Buddha Bowl
- Spicy Noodle Stir Fry
- Pumpkin Soup without Stock
- Beyond Sausage Paella
- Greek Lemon Soup
- Broccoli Leek Soup
- Pesto Pasta Salad
- Shepherd's Pie with Beyond Beef
- Quinoa Lentil Meatloaf