Whole Wheat Penne with Vegan Cashew Alfredo Sauce
No milk, no butter, and no heavy cream but “YES!” to so much flavor in this penne and vegan cashew alfredo sauce recipe!
Is there anything better than a bowlful of pasta topped with creamy, rich alfredo sauce?
Actually, is there anything better than a bowlful of pasta topped with creamy, rich alfredo sauce prepared with entirely vegan ingredients?
That's right, this means no milk, no butter, and no heavy cream!
Our penne and vegan alfredo sauce recipe is what plant-based dreams are made of thanks to one key ingredient: Cashews.
Cashews gift a richness and creaminess most alfredo recipes offer, all while being plant-based. The sauce is also naturally gluten-free and dairy-free (and cheesy perfection even without the cheese).
Find out how to quickly whip up an absolutely delicious vegan cashew alfredo sauce that serves perfectly on whole wheat penne!
Penne & Vegan Cashew Alfredo Sauce Recipe
Yield: 5 servings
Nutrition per serving: 340 calories, 14 g fat, 13 g protein, 41 g total carb, 6 g fiber
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
• 1 cup of raw cashews
• 1/2 (16 oz) box whole wheat penne noodles
• 1 Tbsp olive oil
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 1/2 cups of non-dairy milk such as almond or cashew milk, unsweetened (plus a bit more as needed)
• 4 Tbsp nutritional yeast
• 1 Tbsp lemon juice
• Salt and black pepper
1. Soak cashews in about 1/2 cup of water, or enough to cover, for at least an hour or overnight. For a faster soak, cover cashews with hot water and soak for about 10 minutes. Drain off the water.
2. Add noodles and a touch of salt to a large pot and cook according to package instructions. Drain noodles, reserving about 1/4 cup of the water, then set aside in a large bowl.
3. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium-sized pan. Add onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until soft and fragrant.
4. In a high-powered blender, add the soaked cashews, reserved pasta water, milk, sautéed onion, garlic, lemon juice, and nutritional yeast. Process until combined and creamy, scraping the sides and adding more liquid as needed.
5. Pour the alfredo cashew sauce atop the noodles and gently combine. Plate and garnish with freshly chopped parsley.
Prep & Serving Suggestions
Watching carb intake? Looking to boost protein content in pasta?
Use these prep and serving suggestions to make the penne and vegan alfredo sauce recipe fit into just about any diet!
Make the Pasta Low-Carb
There are many ways to lower the overall carb and calorie content of the pasta:
1. One way is to bulk the dish with non-starchy veggies, including steamed broccoli florets and chopped asparagus.
2. Another is to swap out the penne with a veggie "noodle" such as spaghetti squash and zucchini noodles known as "zoodles."
A common method to prep the zoodles is by spiralizing the zucchini then sautéing on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Or, bake in the oven with this easy 4-step process:
1. Preheat oven to 400°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Using a spiralizer, spiral the zucchinis to create the "noodles." A vegetable peeler can work as well, just include the peel for maximum nutrients! Shave down until the center with the seeds.
3. Add noodles to the lined sheet, making sure they are evenly spaced and not overcrowded. Use two baking sheets as needed.
4. Roast for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until noodles have reached preferred consistency. Check and flip noodles throughout to ensure even cooking.
Serve with Protein
While cashews do contain some protein, they are mostly a source of healthy fat. Adding more protein to the pasta rounds out the dish and will help keep you feeling satisfied for longer.
To keep the theme of vegan food, add a plant-based protein source such as:
• Green peas
If not entirely plant-based, there are plenty of animal proteins that pair great with alfredo sauce. Some favorites include:
• Sirloin steak
Season to Preference
All-in-all, the vegan cashew alfredo sauce is extremely versatile. Experiment with various herbs, spices, and other seasonings to make the dish truly your own.
Delicious ingredients to elevate flavor may include:
• Cajun seasoning that pairs deliciously with shrimp
• Fajita seasoning to uniquely satisfy a Mexcian craving
• Red pepper flakes for a touch of heat
• Soy sauce for an Asian twist
• Tomato sauce to create a pink sauce (best of both worlds!)