Made with fresh tomatoes, basil, and deliciously dairy free, this creamy tomato vegan pasta sauce is simple enough for a weeknight, but decadent enough for a date night in! It’s easy to make and smothered over perfectly cooked pasta.
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They say you are what you eat, so I’m pretty sure at this point I’m about 90% pasta. I’ve been obsessed with pasta since I was a wee one, but this tomato basil cream sauce really blows all of the other pasta out of the water.
It’s somewhat similar to my vegan vodka sauce, but we’ll be roasting fresh tomatoes and onion to bring out tons of delicious flavor. It’s a classic recipe with a dairy free twist.
It’s rich (but not overwhelming), creamy, incredibly easy to make, and it stores well in the fridge so it’s perfect for meal prep!
For this tomato cream sauce, we will be using three (yes, three!) forms of tomato. Whole tomatoes which will be roasted, tomato sauce and tomato paste. That might seem like an excessive amount of tomato, but I promise it yields such a good flavor.
These ingredients combine to give the best flavor, and you’d have no idea it’s entirely dairy free! For this recipe you will need:
- Fresh tomatoes: Roasted to perfection for SO much flavor. I used medium sized red tomatoes.
- Tomato sauce: Unflavored plain tomato sauce from a can.
- Tomato paste: This adds a lot of depth of flavor and enhances the overall tomato-ness (not a word, forgive me) of the sauce.
- Cashews: The cashews will make the sauce super creamy without needing to use any dairy.
- Basil: For flavor and a little garnish on top!
- Olive oil: Half will be for roasting and half will be to blend the sauce and make it creamy.
- Yellow onion: To roast with the tomatoes for tons of flavor.
- Garlic: Pasta without garlic is never good IMO!
- Salt & pepper: As much or as little as you want!
I used brown rice pasta to keep this dish gluten free, but you can use regular pasta or even a legume or chickpea based pasta for some extra protein.
How to make this recipe
This recipe may seem scary and intimidating because it has a lot of steps, but just like my instant pot pasta, it’s really easy, I promise!
Essentially, all you need to do is roast the garlic, onions, and tomatoes to bring out lots of flavor and juices. I like to add some olive oil and black pepper before they go in the oven to get a deep flavor. You will need to peel the tomatoes to prevent a grainy texture to the sauce.
Next, you’ll add the roasted veggies, cashews and all remaining ingredients to a blender and process until completely smooth. About 1 full minute will make sure there are no chunks to the sauce.
Feel free to taste and adjust any seasonings as desired before you pour the sauce over your cooked pasta. I like using brown rice pasta to keep this gluten free, but any type of pasta will do.
Do you have to peel the tomatoes?
While you don’t have to remove the skins from tomatoes to make a good sauce, I do recommend it for this recipe, especially if you’re not using a high speed blender. The skins can make the texture a bit rougher, so for the creamiest and smoothest sauce, I do recommend peeling the skins off.
The best way to remove the skins is to first roast them and let them cool for about 5 minutes. You just want to make sure they’re cool enough to handle so you won’t burn your hand.
The release a lot of juice while they roast, so they get a bit slippery, but essentially what I like to do is pinch the skin side of the tomato and hold it over the blender and allow the inside to just fall right in. Set the skins aside and discard them.
Tips, tricks, and notes
- Once prepared, this vegan pasta sauce will store in the fridge for 5 days. To reheat it, I suggest adding to a pan on the stove with a splash of water, broth, or almond milk to make sure it gets nice and creamy again.
- If you do not have a high speed blender, you will want to soak the cashews for as long as possible to make sure they blend thoroughly. 30 minutes in hot water is ideal for a high speed blender, but overnight is best with a regular blender.
- Yellow onion will yield the best flavor, but white or red onion will also work. Red onion will have a stronger flavor, but will still be delicious!
- This recipe calls for tomato sauce, and you want to make sure you use plain tomato sauce from a can with no additional seasonings.
Looking for more? Try these
- Roasted Red Pepper Penne
- Mushroom Broccoli Rigatoni with Lemon Garlic Cream Sauce
- Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo
- Dairy Free White Bean Pasta Sauce
- Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese
Vegan Tomato Basil Cream Sauce and Pasta
- 16 ounces pasta of choice
- 1 large yellow onion (about 1 1/4 cups chopped)
- 5 medium tomatoes (about 750 grams)
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce (plain, from a can)
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 heaping cup raw cashews
- 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup basil (divided)
- 6 large cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup olive oil (divided into 2 x 2 tbsp)
- 1 tsp salt
- Black pepper to taste
- Optional: 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- Optional: 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes for spice
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Add the cashews to a bowl and cover with boiling water.
- Peel and chop the onion into large chunks, peel the garlic, and cut the tomatoes in half and then half again and add to a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
- Drizzle with 2 tbsp of olive oil and a few cracks of black pepper and toss to make sure everything is well coated.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- During the final 10 minutes, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions.
- Let cool for a few minutes until the tomatoes are easy enough to handle. Carefully remove the skins of the tomatoes. They will be hot, but the skins should peel off very easily. I like to hold the tomatoes right over the blender and pinch the back of the skins so the inside falls right inside.
- Drain and rinse the soaked cashews and add to a blender.
- Add the roasted tomatoes, onion and garlic to a blender and be sure to get all the juices in there.
- Add all remaining ingredients but only 1/4 cup worth of basil to a high speed blender and process until completely smooth.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
- Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta and stir until well coated.
- Add in the chopped basil and mix through. Garnish with fresh pepper, red pepper flakes and extra basil if desired and enjoy!