Creamy Cauliflower Pasta with Garlic & Roasted Tomatoes

Created by Laura Wright
5 from 7 votes

An easy and satisfying vegan main course recipe. Creamy cauliflower pasta with garlic and roasted tomatoes is comforting and amazingly rich.

An overhead shot of a creamy linguine pasta with tomatoes, cauliflower, basil, and peas.
Two photos show a bunch of halved grape tomatoes, and the beginnings of a creamy cashew sauce in a blender.
An overhead shot of ingredients for a creamy cauliflower pasta.
Image shows cauliflower florets on a baking sheet.


Because I love you all so very much, we’re going heavy on the carbs two weeks in a row. We eat pasta twice a week usually. Sometimes we’re really virtuous and do the lentil-based “sedanini” from Trader Joe’s and other times, only the all white flour stuff will do. I broke my spiralizer months ago, so zucchini noodles aren’t an option anymore. I totally get why people love them–I just definitely overdid it within a certain period of time a couple years ago (I think a lot of us did haha). Today we’re making creamy cauliflower pasta.

This pasta is a variation on one that I do quite often. It’s creamy and tomato-y and it’s very cozy without seeming overly heavy. I try to keep raw, soaked cashews in my refrigerator for all sorts of recipe emergencies. Most of these are blended into my morning coffee with some mesquite powder, cinnamon, and coconut butter. The rest work their way into whatever plant-based milk I’m making and savoury/saucy recipes like this.

Basically everything that could possibly be in season is in season right now where I live. The summer and fall crops collide, our own garden is heaving, and it’ll be that way for another month or so. I always like to gently encourage people to eat seasonally, but realize that this is a challenging thing to live by in a black and white way if you don’t live in California or a similarly warm and fertile climate. It can be hard! This is a great time of year to experiment if you’re new to the whole thing ;)

This recipe stands right at that abundant seasonal intersection that makes our little corner of Canada feel like a southern California farmer’s market for about a month. My dad sends big baskets of grape tomatoes over around this time every year and I always slow-roast them (using this recipe), cover them in oil, and then keep them on hand in the refrigerator for a couple weeks. They’re perfect in and on so many things, but pasta is their ultimate final destination for me.

We simply sauté the little cauliflower florets in lots of garlic with the tomatoes, make up our own little plant-powered cream with the soaked cashews, toss in lots of basil, chilies, green onions, and pasta. I threw in some peas (still growing around here!) and a quickie homemade vegan parmesan to make it extra lovely because we all need a little extra loveliness midweek, right? If you’re into this pasta, you might like this Summer Garden Pasta recipe, this creamy truffle pasta or this double rosé pasta with asparagus and kale.

Image shows a well-lit kitchen scene.
Image shows a creamy sauce being poured into a pan with tomatoes and cauliflower.
Image shows an individual serving of creamy cauliflower pasta with basil, peas, and tomatoes.
Image shows an individual serving of creamy cauliflower pasta with basil, peas, and tomatoes.

Creamy Cauliflower Pasta with Garlic & Roasted Tomatoes

An easy and satisfying vegan main course recipe. Creamy cauliflower pasta with garlic and roasted tomatoes is comforting and amazingly rich.
5 from 7 votes
Super Creamy Cauliflower Pasta with Garlic and Roasted Tomatoes (vegan!) - The First Mess
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

QUICKIE VEGAN PARMESAN

  • ¾ cup raw cashews, walnuts or sliced almonds
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)

PASTA

  • ¾ lb linguine of choice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups small cauliflower florets, from about ½ a large head of cauliflower
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • pinch of chili flakes
  • ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ½ cup slow-roasted tomatoes, lightly chopped or mashed (see notes for sun-dried option)
  • sea salt and ground black pepper
  • cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours
  • ½ cup filtered water
  • ½ cup shelled fresh or frozen peas
  • 2 sprigs fresh basil, sliced
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1 cup quickie vegan parmesan, divided

Notes

  • I prefer traditional wheat-based linguine here, but brown rice pasta, zucchini noodles, or any other noodle you like would be great. If you’re going the zucchini noodle route, I’d cut back the liquid a bit.
  • If you don’t want to slow roast some tomatoes for this recipe, I’d recommend replacing them with a ¼ cup of finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil.
  • Feel free to add a cup of cooked white beans or something similar to this if you’re craving more protein.
  • Don’t forget to reserve a cup of the salty and starchy pasta cooking water. It’s the key to success here.

Instructions

  • Make the parmesan. In a food processor or the dry blade container of a high speed blender, combine the raw nuts, nutritional yeast, salt, and lemon zest. Pulse until you have a finely ground mixture that tastes lightly salty and cheesy. Set aside.
  • Cook the pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the salty and starchy pasta water before draining and setting aside.
  • In a large, wide sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the cauliflower to the pan and stir. Sauté until the cauliflower is lightly softened on the edges, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, chili flakes, paprika, tomatoes, salt, and pepper to the pan and stir.
  • In an upright blender, combine the cashews, the reserved pasta cooking water, and the ½ cup of filtered water. Blend the mixture on high until you have a milk-like consistency.
  • Pour the cashew milk into the pan and add the peas as well. Bring the mixture to a boil and then immediately lower the heat to a simmer, stirring often. Once the cauliflower is soft and the peas are bright green, gently fold the pasta into the mixture to coat in the sauce.
  • Sprinkle the basil, green onions, and ½ of the parmesan onto the pasta and stir to combine. Serve the creamy cauliflower pasta hot with remaining parmesan on top and extra chili flakes if you like.
13/09/2017 (Last Updated 31/10/2022)
Posted in: autumn, cashews, creamy, gluten free option, main course, pasta, quick, refined sugar-free, roasted, salty, side dish, sour, spring, summer, tomatoes, umami, vegan, winter

30 comments

Recipe Rating




  • Patricia Beckwith

    5 stars
    Cannot wait to try this!

  • Laura

    5 stars
    This dish felt so rich without feeling heavy. I did half slow roasted tomatoes and half sun-dried tomatoes, which I think was the best of both worlds. the quick vegan parm was a game changer – the texture was perfect. Will definitely be making this one again this season.

  • Kristen

    5 stars
    I love this dish so much! It has become a true comfort food to me. The flavors compliment each other so wonderfully. I add some more sun dried tomatoes because they are my favorite :)
    Thanks for the wonderful recipe, Laura!

  • Ana

    My husband and I are not vegan, and we absolutely loved this pasta! It was so satisfyingly rich and creamy without feeling heavy like a cream based sauce. We will definitely keep it in our dinner rotation. 

  • Jen

    This is so delicious! It’s on a regular rotation in my home. The flavors are wonderful! I typically add mushrooms and spinach, but otherwise follow all the seasonings.

  • Sarah Downes

    Just made this last night — I used sunflower seeds (out of cashews) and it turned out so well! Yummmmmm
    THANK YOU

  • Megan

    I’m doing Vegan January and this was my first foray into “creamy” vegan pasta. It was SO good! I’m so impressed!!!! Thank you for this delicious recipe.

  • Mags

    I’m about to try this! But we don’t have any basil or spring onions (green onions)… any other subs that could work?
    I have fresh oregano, parsley, thyme and rosemary in the garden.

    • Laura

      The flavour will be a bit different, but your best substitution would be some chopped parsley here since you want something leafy rather than woody/super strong.
      -L

  • Nina

    Hi, Greetings from the UK and thanks for fabulous recipe…. I want to make a healthy version of baked cauliflower cheese. Could I use the sauce recipe but perhaps use plant milk instead of the reserve dollar pasta water? Any advise or thoughts would be very much appreciated.

    ps I love your cookbook! X

  • Halli

    Yum! This is one of my favourites of the recipes that you’ve shared here. It’s so creamy and satisfying… the slow roasted tomatoes are little sweet surprises! I’ve made the recipe once before with regular pasta noodles but last night I spiralized yam for the noodles (my first time spiralizing… way late for that train) and was really pleased with how it came together.

    Thanks for taking the time to create these super tasty, thoughtful recipes and for sharing them with all of us.

  • Sarah

    Just made this and oh my it was comforting, flavourful and easy to make! Just what I needed on a cold December night. I subbed the cashews for sunflower seeds and it worked well. Thanks for another wonderful recipe and for keeping me inspired :)

  • Kailey

    I made this yesterday for dinner and it was soooo delicious. I can’t stop thinking about it I might have to make it again!

  • Elizabeth

    If using zucchini noodles, what’s a good sub for the starchy water in the sauce?

    • Laura

      I would try whisking/blending a bit of arrowroot powder into the cashew “cream” mixture to get the starchy/sticky texture. I haven’t personally tried this so can’t vouch for effectiveness, but this is probably the direction I would go in first.
      -L

  • Charlotte Cook

    This is SO delicious! I subbed the cashews in the sauce for some cooked haricot beans instead because beans = more protein, less fat, I’d already hit my daily fat target and I have a mountain of beans in the fridge! The dish was still really creamy and flavourful and will be henceforth a regular feature on my menu. Thank you Laura.

  • Sarah

    What could you sub for soaked cashes in a pinch? pre-packaged nut milk? or hemp seeds with the hot pasta water?

    • Laura

      Hemp seeds would work, or a richer non-dairy milk (like cashew or unsweetened coconut milk) would be fine!
      -L

  • Amy

    Oh my gosh, this was SO good! Creamy, tomato-y pasta loaded with veggies is one of my all-time favorite meals. I make it all year round, swapping out whatever is fresh. I always use heavy cream, and I always get a stomachache later that evening. This was just as good, and I felt great afterwards! This is going to be my new go-to.

  • Tina for Thetastyworld.com

    Best way to get that creamy rich feel without cream! Also fab for hiding another veggie in pasta!

  • Erika

    I made this a few days ago and I obsessively ate it for every meal until it ran out. SO GOOD. I can’t get over it. I usually make up my own pasta sauces and they always start with onions. I was surprised that this recipe didn’t miss the onions at all – it was so good and complete just as it was. It was also easy to make without any packaging – just had to shell by hand some fresh peas from the produce section and it was so fun! Thank you for this! I will be making it again and again.

  • Sarah

    Going to make this today! I have a jar of roasted red peppers in the cupboard- could these be subbed for the sundried tomatoes packed in oil?

    • Laura

      I think the roasted peppers would be fine! You might want to add a splash of lemon juice or white wine vinegar or something to make up for the acidity though. Let me know what it’s like if you try it.
      -L

  • Kasey Goins

    This looks heavenly! The perfect fall comfort food! Can’t wait to give it a try!

  • Cassie

    This pasta looks amazing! What a creamy and flavorful-looking sauce!

  • Anya

    Wow, we just finished shooting a cauliflower pasta recipe for next week! Yours looks extra lush and cozy, I can’t wait to try it! I think my little one would go for it in a big way.

  • Erin at

    Yes, I totally LOVE this time of year here in Ontario. The farmers’ markets are all full of insanely gorgeous produce and I refuse to buy any veggies from the grocery store, they all need to come from the local market (with exception of avocados, lemons and limes – can we please get some local farmers working on somehow producing those??). I’ve been going easy on the carbs this past week so this recipe is killing me – it looks so good!

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food

    Pasta really is one of the best ways to let ingredients shine (and I so love everything in this beautiful bowl), so I fully support you embracing your carb-loving self. In fact, I just came back from the kitchen, where I took out some leftover pasta (with roasted tomatoes and mushrooms) and ate it for breakfast. Because we can make these awful/brilliant decisions… we’re adults, damn it!

  • Kelsey @ Appeasing a Food Geek

    I love love love that you did two comfort-type dishes in a row. I seek these out at this time of year more than any other recipe category. I also get really excited when you show shots of your kitchen while you’re cooking. It puts me in your world and makes me even more excited to make this recipe. xoxo

  • Camilla

    Looks so incredibly delicious!

    Must remember to put this on our meal plan for next week :-)