This cashew pasta sauce is full of incredible flavor, is thick and creamy, and is tossed with your favorite pasta and nourishing broccoli.
You can't beat a great creamy pasta recipe and this one is no exception. I love how rich this sauce is and the way it perfectly coats every piece of pasta.
It's the perfect recipe for date night, entertaining, or just a cozy comfort meal at home.
Reasons You'll Love This Recipe:
- Vegan/Plant-Based: We don't use any eggs, dairy, or meat in this recipe making it fully dairy-free and vegan.
- Gluten-Free: This sauce is gluten-free, yay! Serve with your favorite GF pasta for a full gluten-free meal.
- Creamy & Delicious: The soaked cashews make this sauce thick and creamy. Plus, who doesn't love the added nutrients from cashews.
Cashews: For best results soak the cashews in a container of warm water for at least an hour but ideally overnight.
Make sure you're covering the container and placing it in the fridge after about 30 minutes.
Garlic: Use fresh garlic for best results.
Pasta: This recipe works great with a variety of different pasta shapes and sizes. I personally like to use a hearty pasta like bowties or penne so it compliments the size and texture of the broccoli.
If you're using a thinner pasta I would cut the broccoli a bit smaller.
Reserved Pasta Water: Just like it sounds, this is the water that our pasta cooks in. We set it aside before straining the pasta then add it into our sauce. It adds a nice starchy thickness to our sauce.
See the recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and quantities.
Top Tip: I typically soak the cashews the day before so everything is ready to go and the cashews are extra soft.
Substitutions & Additions
Make it spicy: Add an extra teaspoon (or more if you're really brave) of crushed red pepper to make this sauce nice and spicy.
Add extra veggies: If you want to work on your daily vegetable intake you can add some of your favorite vegetables to this pasta. I love adding broccoli, cauliflower, peas, and more!
Omit the veggies: I like to use broccoli in this recipe because it's an easy way to incorporate a vegetable into the meal. If you don't want the broccoli you can simply omit it without any other changes.
Add some protein: If you want to level up your protein game you can add white beans, chickpeas, or your favorite protein source. You can also use a protein-packed pasta like chickpea pasta to incorporate protein that way.
Step by Step Instructions
Image One: Start by boiling a pot of water then pouring it over the cashews in a heat-safe container. Allow the cashews to soak for at least 30 minutes or ideally overnight.
While the cashews soak, cook the pasta according to package ingredients. At the end of cooking the pasta set aside 2 cups of reserved pasta water. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the head of garlic in half horizontally and wrap them in aluminum foil, drizzling half a tablespoon of olive oil on top. Then close up the aluminum foil.
Cut the broccoli into bite-sized pieces and transfer to a baking sheet. Toss in the remaining half tablespoon of olive oil, add the garlic to the baking sheet and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Remove the garlic and continue to roast the broccoli for another 5 minutes.
Image Two: Combine the cashews, garlic, nutritional yeast, salt, crushed red pepper flakes, nutritional yeast, and pasta water in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
Add the remaining pasta water to thin out the sauce if necessary. If you do this, adjust seasonings to taste.
Image Three: Once smooth and creamy, pour the sauce into a large sauce pan or pot and warm over medium-low heat for several minutes until it's warm and has thickened slightly.
Image Four: Gently stir the pasta and broccoli in with the sauce until well combined. Enjoy warm.
Soak the cashews the night before: I love doing this the night before so the cashews are extra soft and ready to go when it's time to make the recipe.
Don't forget about the pasta water: It's so easy to forget to set aside pasta water before straining the pasta but it's a mistake you'll only make once! Write yourself a note or put a little reminder in your phone so you don't forget.
When in doubt, add extra herbs: I love mixing fresh herbs into my sauces. Don't hold back and add a generous amount of fresh basil to this pasta before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
20 minutes to overnight. If you're soaking them for a short period of time I recommend using boiling hot water to expedite the softening process. If you plan on soaking them overnight (which I recommend) or for longer than 20 minutes make sure you're covering them and placing them in the fridge.
You can use hot water to soak cashews to speed up the time it takes for them to soften. If you plan on letting them soak overnight you can use room temperature or cool water.
More Vegan Sauce & Pasta Recipes You'll Love
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Cashew Pasta Sauce
- ½ pound pasta
- 2 cups broccoli
Cashew Sauce Ingredients
- ½ cup cashews
- 2 heads garlic
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 ½ cup reserved pasta water
- ½ cup oat milk
- Boil a pot of water and remove it from heat once it reaches a boil. Add the cashews to the pot of water and allow them to soak for at least 30 minutes or ideally overnight. If you soak them overnight use cool water and store them in a closed container in the refrigerator.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and cooking the pasta according to package instructions. At the end of cooking the pasta set aside 2 cups of the pasta water before straining the pasta and set it to the side.
- Cut the two heads (not cloves, entire heads) of garlic in half horizontally so you have half of each clove on each half. Place the garlic on a sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle ½ tablespoon olive oil on the open halves, then wrap up in the foil.
- Cut the broccoli into bite-sized florets and place them on a baking sheet and drizzle the remaining ½ tablespoon on top and toss until coated in the oil. Place the garlic on the baking sheet and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes on the middle rack.
- Remove the garlic and continue to roast the garlic for an additional 5-10 minutes depending on your preference.
- Combine the soaked cashews, 1 ½ cup of pasta water (you can add more to thin it out if necessary), garlic, crushed red pepper, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and oat milk in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
- Once smooth, transfer to a large pot and warm up over medium-low heat for several minutes until it is warm and has thickened slightly. Gently mix in the pasta and broccoli until well combined.