Making homemade creamy vegan vodka pasta sauce (penne alla vodka) is much easier than you think! This recipe is super simple, healthy, and dairy free. Made without heavy cream – substituting rich cashew cream instead – and ready in just 30 minutes! Vegan and gluten free.
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- just boiled water
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup vodka
- 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- pinch of chili flakes (optional)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 12 ounces gluten free pasta
- 1 1/2 cups reserved pasta water
- Salt, to taste
- Fresh basil, for serving
- Chili flakes, for serving
- Add cashews to a heat proof bowl and cover with just boiled water. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until onions are quite soft and translucent – about 5-6 minutes.
- Add the vodka, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, chili flakes (if using), garlic powder, and onion powder to the skillet. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook on low, stirring occasionally, for about 10-12 minutes, until the alcohol in the vodka has evaporated and the sauce has reduced.
- While the sauce is simmering, boil the pasta according to package instructions. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the pasta water for the next step.
- Drain the soaked cashews and add to a high speed blender with all of the simmered tomato base, nutritional yeast, salt, lemon juice, and 3/4 cup reserved pasta water. Blend on high, until absolutely smooth and creamy with no pieces of cashew remaining.
- Add the sauce back to the skillet along with the cooked pasta. Toss together and warm on low heat, stirring occasionally until the sauce evenly coats the pasta. Season to taste with salt and thin the sauce with a little more pasta water if desired.
- Serve topped with fresh basil and chili flakes!
- If the sauce on the pasta ever gets too thick all you have to do is thin with a little water or nut milk and re-season with salt to taste!
This vodka sauce can be prepped in advance. Just store it in an airtight container until your ready to re-heat it and toss with your cooked pasta. If you make it ahead of time but don’t plan on cooking the pasta until you’re ready to serve it, use regular water when blending the pasta sauce instead of pasta water.
This pasta sauce can be frozen (without any pasta – sauce only) for up to several months. When ready to use defrost it in the refrigerator until mostly thawed and then gently warm on the stove, stirring frequently and adding a bit of water or milk to thin as needed. If the sauce has separated it can be re-blended before tossing with pasta. Microwaving cashew based sauces for long periods of time will change the texture and I don’t recommend it.
This vodka sauce can be re-heated gently on the stove or in the microwave. In general, sauces with cashew cream tend to thicken after being cooled / refrigerated. All you need to do to thin it is add a splash of water or nut milk until desired consistency is reached.