When you go to a party, what’s the #1 thing you’re most excited about?
The people? The games? The conversations?
I’m guessing 99.9% of you are saying, “Of course not. I’m most excited about the food.”
So imagine the excitement I felt when DeLallo came to me and said, “Hey, we’re launching this new pasta, and we’d like you to throw a pasta party to celebrate with your friends and family.”
Um…twist my arm.
Just last week, I invited my brother, Mark and his parents, and myself over to my parents’ house for the most epic pasta party ever.
We had drinks! We had salad! We had snacks! We had dessert! But most importantly, we had pasta.
ever-so-slightly totally in love with pasta, I made two different kinds:
- DeLallo Linguine – I used it for my Vegan One-Pot Pumpkin Pasta recipe! It’s so creamy, so simple, and so so fall-y topped with salty fried sage.
- DeLallo Casarecce – aka. lil twists! I used it for the new recipe we’re focusing on today, Vegan Cacio e Pepe!
This new pasta from DeLallo is so cool, especially for food nerds like me. Not only does it actually come from Italy (near Naples, actually!), it’s extruded with bronze dies. That sounds intense. I know. But all you need to know is that it creates a rougher texture on the pasta, which is ideal for capturing just the right amount of sauce in every bite.
And I mean, come on. That packaging. 😍
But let’s talk Vegan Cacio e Pepe, shall we?
Cacio e Pepe is one of my very favorite pasta recipes to make because it’s just so gosh-darn simple. It translates to “cheese and pepper,” and that’s basically all it is (plus some butter and pasta water to make the sauce all velvety and luscious).
For people unfamiliar with Cacio e Pepe, I like to describe it as “grown up mac and cheese.” It’s creamy, it’s slightly tangy, and it has juuuust the right amount of bite from the black pepper. It’s also a classic Roman dish, so if you head on over to the Italian capital city, chances are you’ll see it on pretty much every menu.
That said, traditional Cacio e Pepe isn’t very vegan. In fact, it’s not even sort of vegan. So that’s why I set my sights on turning this simple, dairy-based recipe vegan.
The base of this recipe is cashew cream, aka. a thick, blended mixture of raw cashews and water. Cashew cream plays two roles in this vegan take on Cacio e Pepe:
- Nutty “cheesy” flavor
We’re also getting flavor from nutritional yeast (not a lot, just enough to accentuate that cheesy flavor), lemon juice (for a bit more “tang”), salt (because cheese is salty!), and, of course, black pepper.
I’m a huge black pepper-on-creamy-things person. I’m a firm believer that any creamy soup, pasta sauce, or substance is made better with lots of black pepper. My suggestion is to add the called-for amount to the sauce, and serve it with a pepper grinder on the table for the pepper lovers in your life. They will thank you. Trust me.
This is such a simple pasta recipe, and the flavor is eerily similar to the traditional cheese-based sauce. We all (my omnivore guests included!) loved it, and my brother even said that he didn’t realize it wasn’t made with cheese.
Let me know if you give it a try! Bonus points if you throw your own pasta party while you’re at it. 🍝Print
Vegan Cacio e Pepe (& a Pasta Party!)
Meet my new favorite pasta recipe! Cashew cream, nutritional yeast, and black pepper make this a bitey, creamy vegan pasta that’s not to be missed!
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 3–5 servings 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Boil
- Cuisine: Italian
1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
3/4 cup water
1 tsp. nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. lemon juice
1 lb. DeLallo Casarecce Pasta
2 Tbsp. vegan butter or olive oil
3/4 tsp. freshly-cracked black pepper, plus more for serving
salt, to taste
Vegan Parmesan, for serving
- Place your cashews in a medium bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit for at least a half hour, then drain well.
- Add your drained cashews to a high-powered blender with your 3/4 cup water, and blend until silky smooth. Add your nutritional yeast and lemon juice, and blend just until combined. Set aside.
- Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add your pasta and boil until al dente, about 10 minutes. Stir often to avoid sticking. When the pasta is almost done cooking, carefully scoop out 1 and 1/2 cups of pasta water and set it aside. You’ll need it for the sauce.
- When the pasta is almost ready, heat your vegan butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Add your black pepper, and allow the pepper to “fry” slightly, about 30 seconds. Add 1 cup of your cashew cream mixture, and thin it out with 1/2 of your reserved pasta water. Mix to combine. It’ll be thick. Turn off the heat.
- When the pasta is ready, transfer it to your cashew cream mixture, and mix to combine. If the cream starts to clump, add just enough reserved pasta water to make it creamy over the noodles. Carefully taste, and add salt to taste. Serve immediately with more freshly-cracked pepper and Vegan Parmesan on the side!
Keywords: cacio e pepe, vegan pasta
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