Is there anything more comforting than a big ol’ bowl of pasta?
My answer: no. It is the quintessential cozy food for me, and I will praise its perfection all year long.
But… there’s something about pasta just hitting different in the fall and winter months. It is extra cozy, extra soothing, extra satisfying.
That’s why, when September started, I woke up craving pasta. And not just any pasta: vodka sauce.
And dealt with it was!
When I read up on vodka sauce, I learned a few things:
- It’s actually a very simple recipe –– just some aromatics, tomatoes, cream, and (of course) vodka.
- The origin is debated –– it originated either from an Italian chef or an Italian-American in New York.
- It got super popular in the 80s and 90s (which must be why I have such a soft spot for it!).
- It’s really easy to turn it vegan.
So that’s exactly what I did!
Most of the base recipe (mine is based off of this one) is actually vegan. You’ll just sweat down an entire onion in a little olive oil. Then add garlic and red pepper flakes, and once they’re cooked slightly, you’ll want to add your tomato paste.
It’s a lot of tomato paste –– 6 whole ounces! –– but it adds such a lovely and rich depth of flavor to our final sauce. Especially if you cook it a bit before the pan gets all liquidy. By cooking out the tomato paste, you’re concentrating the punchy tomato-ness even more by caramelizing the sugars.
Then you’ll add your whole, peeled canned tomatoes, a sprig of basil, some water, and our “cream” ingredients.
Now, cauliflower and cashews may not seem like creamy ingredients, but once cooked and blended? It helps give our final sauce a velvety, rich texture and flavor. It’s a hack I borrowed from my favorite vegan mac & cheese recipe!
Once you give the sauce a few minutes to cook on the stove, you’ll carefully transfer it to a blender with a knob of vegan butter, and blend until creamy.
Final step is putting the sauce back in your pan, adding the vodka, allowing it to cook for a minute or two, and then adding the pasta. And you’re done!
Surprisingly simple, ridiculously satisfying, and perfectly comforting for this time of year. Enjoy!Print
Vegan Vodka Sauce
A divinely creamy vegan vodka sauce! This recipe is easy, comforting, and super satisfying and made creamy from two secret ingredients!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 6-8 servings
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Boil
- Cuisine: Italian
- Diet: Vegan
- 6 medium-large cauliflower florets
- 1/4 cup raw, unsalted cashews
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium sweet onion, diced
- pinch salt
- 3 large garlic cloves, crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon (or more) red pepper flakes
- 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
- 1 14.5-ounce whole, peeled canned tomatoes
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 sprig basil (plus more for topping)
- 1 pound short pasta
- 1 tablespoon vegan butter
- 1/4 cup vodka
- 2 cups pasta water*
- vegan parmesan, for topping
- Place your cauliflower florets and cashews in a food processor and blitz until it resembles small pebbles. It should yield ~1 cup (a little more is okay). Set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat your olive oil over medium heat.
- Add your onion and a pinch or two of salt, and cook until the onion is translucent, 6-8 minutes. Add a splash of water if things are browning.
- Add your garlic, red pepper flakes, and a few cranks of black pepper, and cook for another minute.
- Add your tomato paste with a splash of water, and cook for another minute. You’re caramelizing the sugars and developing more flavors in this step. Look at you!
- Add your canned tomatoes, water, and your cauliflower/cashew mixture and stir to combine. Add a pinch of salt.
- Allow the sauce to simmer, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook your pasta 1 minute less than package instructions (we’ll finish it in the sauce). Reserve two cups pasta water.
- Remove and discard your basil, and then carefully transfer your sauce mixture to a high-powered blender with a tablespoon of vegan butter, and blend until rich and creamy.
- Transfer your sauce back to your pan (wipe it out first to ensure a super smooth sauce!), and return to a simmer over medium heat.
- Stir in your vodka and cook for 1 minute, then add your cooked pasta.
- Turn the heat up to medium-high and cook until the pasta is cooked to your liking. You can add your pasta water here to thin out the sauce if needed.
- Carefully taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve with additional fresh basil and / or vegan parmesan!
* You probably won’t add all of this, but it’s better to have more than run out!
Recipe adapted from Serious Eats
Keywords: creamy vegan pasta sauce, no cream vodka sauce, dairy-free vodka sauce
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