Vegan Red Pepper Pasta with Charred Corn & Basil

Created by Laura Wright
5 from 18 votes

This vegan red pepper pasta is super flavourful, satisfying, and takes 30 minutes to make, and it utilizes one pan plus an upright blender. This vegan main is easy to make gluten-free, and perfect for summer with lots of charred corn and basil.

An overhead shot shows a creamy vegan red pepper pasta in a stainless steel pan. The short-shaped pasta is garnished with fresh basil leaves, strips of roasted red pepper, charred corn kernels, dried chili flakes, and freshly ground pepper.
An overhead shot shows a creamy red pepper pasta in a stainless steel pan. The short-shaped pasta is garnished with fresh basil leaves, strips of roasted red pepper, charred corn kernels, dried chili flakes, and freshly ground pepper.
A slight 3/4 angle image shows a bowl of creamy red pepper pasta that features charred corn and strips of roasted red pepper. The pasta is garnished with fresh basil, dried chillies, and ground black pepper. The bowl is seen on a worn wooden board with a vintage silver fork sticking out of the bowl.
An overhead shot of ingredients used in a vegan red pepper pasta dish that also features yellow zucchini, corn, and fresh basil. All ingredients are on a vintage, rustic wood board.
An overhead image shows slices of zucchini and red onion being sautéed with spices in a wide stainless steel pan.

Most of our summer meals revolve around the simple preparations of the abundant seasonal produce. Sometimes we grill a bunch of veg and have that with rice, chickpeas and a tasty sauce. We do a no-cook dip platter situation that we can graze on. Grilled pizza with tons of garden herbs every dang week. And pasta, always pasta with whatever veg I have lots of. This week it’s vegan roasted red pepper pasta with charred corn and basil–with a secret (also super seasonal) ingredient to make the sauce extra creamy.

I love a typical vegan creamy sauce with cashews, sliced almonds etc as the base. But my partner finds the purely nut and seed-based sauces to be a little too rich at times. It’s not a 100% feel-good situation for him! Reducing the amount of nuts/seeds but keeping the creamy vibe going is key for us.

I’ve been getting some excellent yellow zucchini at the farmer’s market lately. The golden colour of them next to some red peppers that I got this week looked like a sunset. I knew that this would be the perfect solution to my sauce situation. I’ve done this before too! The chopped yellow zucchini gets a quick sauté with red onion, garlic and chili–just enough to soften the edges. Then we blend it with a relatively small amount of soaked cashews, the roasted peppers, and a bunch of major flavour enhancements.

Some Tips for this Vegan Red Pepper Pasta:

  • The yellow zucchini is nice here because it enhances the creaminess, but also the golden/orange-like hue of the sauce. You can also use green zucchini! If you’re concerned with how it will look, just give the green zucchini a quick peel before chopping. Otherwise, it’s a 1-to-1 substitution.
  • I roasted my peppers under the broiler until all sides were charred. Then placed them in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. After letting them sit for 10 minutes, I peeled the charred outer skin off and trimmed them. You can use jarred peppers for maximum ease!
  • Raw macadamia nuts, pine nuts, sliced almonds, and sunflower seeds will all stand in nicely for the cashews.
  • Some vegan “parmesan” would be amazing on top of this. My recipe can be found here.

I hope that you give this a recipe a try and that you’re having a good summer! If you need some more pepper inspiration, check out my Vegan Stuffed Pepper Casserole and my Grilled Mini Peppers with Spiced Walnut & Lentil Crumble. For bumper zucchini crops, I recommend my Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffin Tops and my Zucchini Involtini with Almond “Ricotta”.

A 3/4 angle shot shows a creamy red pepper sauce in a blender pitcher. The sauce is pale orange.
An overhead image shows a hand stirring some charred corn with a wooden utensil in a cast iron skillet.
An overhead shot shows a creamy vegan red pepper pasta in a stainless steel pan. The short-shaped pasta is garnished with fresh basil leaves, strips of roasted red pepper, charred corn kernels, dried chili flakes, and freshly ground pepper.
An up close, overhead shot shows a creamy red pepper pasta in a stainless steel pan. The short-shaped pasta is garnished with fresh basil leaves, strips of roasted red pepper, charred corn kernels, dried chili flakes, and freshly ground pepper.

Vegan Red Pepper Pasta with Charred Corn & Basil

This vegan red pepper pasta is super flavourful, satisfying, and takes 30 minutes to make, and it utilizes one pan plus an upright blender. This vegan main is easy to make gluten-free, and perfect for summer with lots of charred corn and basil.
5 from 18 votes
An up close, overhead shot shows a creamy red pepper pasta in a stainless steel pan. The short-shaped pasta is garnished with fresh basil leaves, strips of roasted red pepper, charred corn kernels, dried chili flakes, and freshly ground pepper.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings 3 -4

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon chili flakes, or more to taste
  • 1 medium yellow zucchini, chopped
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 1 hour and drained
  • 3 roasted red peppers, divided
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 ½ tablespoons light miso
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Tamari soy sauce OR coconut aminos
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ cup vegetable stock (or water)
  • ¾ lb (340 grams) short pasta (I used cassarecce)
  • 2 cobs corn
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

Equipment

Notes

  • The yellow zucchini is nice here because it enhances the creaminess, but also the golden/orange-like hue of the sauce. You can also use green zucchini! If you’re concerned with how it will look, just give the green zucchini a quick peel before chopping. Otherwise, it’s a 1-to-1 substitution.
  • I roasted my peppers under the broiler until all sides were charred. Then placed them in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. After letting them sit for 10 minutes, I peeled the charred outer skin off and trimmed them. You can also use jarred peppers!
  • Raw macadamia nuts, pine nuts, sliced almonds, and sunflower seeds will all stand in nicely for the cashews.
  • If you feel like dirtying another dish, charring the corn in a cast iron skillet adds just another level to this pasta! So good.

Instructions

  • Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the red onion, garlic, and chili flakes and cook, stirring often, until soft and slightly translucent on the edges, about 3 minutes. Add the chopped zucchini and season with salt and pepper. Sauté and stir often until zucchini is soft on the edges–about another 4-5 minutes.
  • Transfer the sautéed zucchini mixture to an upright blender. To the blender add the cashews, 2 of the roasted red peppers, nutritional yeast, miso, lemon juice, Dijon, tamari, smoked paprika, and vegetable stock, plus a little bit of salt and pepper. Blend the mixture on high until smooth and creamy, about 1 full minute. Add more stock by the tablespoon if necessary to get a thick but pourable consistency. Set aside.
  • Give the large sauté pan a wipe and place it back over high heat with a drizzle of olive oil. Cut the kernels off of the corn cobs and toss the kernels into the skillet. Sauté the corn until there’s a bit of char on the edges and the corn is soft, about 7-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  • Cook the pasta according to package directions and drain. Reserve about a cup of the pasta cooking water.
  • Slice the remaining roasted red pepper into strips. In the large skillet with the corn, also add the roasted red pepper strips, cooked pasta, red pepper sauce, and chopped basil. Set the heat to medium. Add splashes of pasta cooking water if needed to loosen up the sauce. Keep stirring until pasta is nice and hot. Serve immediately with extra basil, chili flakes, and finishing drizzles of olive oil.
A slight 3/4 angle image shows a bowl of creamy red pepper pasta that features charred corn and strips of roasted red pepper. The pasta is garnished with fresh basil, dried chillies, and ground black pepper. The bowl is seen on a worn wooden board with a vintage silver fork sticking out of the bowl.
27/07/2022 (Last Updated 19/11/2023)
Posted in: cashews, creamy, gluten free option, main course, pasta, quick, refined sugar-free, roasted, salty, sauce, smoky, spicy, summer, sweet, vegan

22 comments

5 from 18 votes (3 ratings without comment)

Recipe Rating




  • Taisa

    5 stars
    This was incredible! I made it with green zucchini and didn’t peel it, sauce colour came out just fine. Used jarred roasted peppers and added some coconut/chickpea bacon on top for some crunch. Sooooo good and will be on regular rotation. Also didn’t have basil but would have been even better with it. I’ve been in a bit of a cooking rut, thank you for the inspiration!!

  • Sandy

    5 stars
    My husband wanted pizza, I really wanted to make this and we were both happy I did. It was so good! 5 stars.thanks for an awesome recipe.

  • Dena

    5 stars
    This is fantastic! Could you make the sauce ahead of time and reheat? Making this again for company and am trying to do as much ahead of time.

    • Laura Wright

      Hi Dena!
      Yep, you can make the sauce up to 5 days in advance.
      -L

  • Taylor

    Hi, I would like to make this recipe but my partner and I both don’t like nutritional yeast. We aren’t vegan but try to cook vegan as much as possible. Do you have any alternatives for the nutritional yeast whether they are vegan alternatives or not?

    Thanks!!

    • Laura Wright

      Hi Taylor,
      I’m just using the nutritional yeast to bump up the savoury flavour in the sauce. You could substitute 1 teaspoon each of garlic and onion powder.
      -L

  • Sarah

    5 stars
    So good! Another winner! I like how packed it is with summer vegetables!

  • Kathy

    5 stars
    This was delicious! Followed the recipe as is except used a green zucchini instead of a yellow one as we have so many right now. Will definitely make this again!

  • Mary

    5 stars
    Delicious!!! I added more corn and less pasta as I like things saucier. Everyone, including the carnivores, loved it.

  • Erica

    5 stars
    I made this for my family tonight and it was delicious! We all loved the complexity of flavors. I didn’t add the miso or the coconut aminos, and it was still so flavorful.

  • Hallie

    5 stars
    So Good!….I may it with no substitutions….I did use water and jarred roasted red peppers. Delicious!

  • Nancy Ball

    5 stars
    Such a delicious recipe! The depth of flavours are amazing. Made this for my grandchildren and they loved it. Thanks for another winner.

  • Felicia

    5 stars
    This was AMAZING. Made it as written and wouldn’t change a thing!! I didn’t have basil and almost made it without it, but decided last minute to run out and grab some… wow, don’t skip it!!! Seriously takes it over the top. The sauce is so rich in flavor but thanks to the zucchini it’s also super light. The corn added a perfect sweet touch to the whole dish. My meat eating fiancé said this is one of the best pasta dishes he’s ever had (and he can be picky), adding this to the weekly rotation for sure!! Thank you for your wonderful recipes Laura :) 

  • Rosemary

    This was delicious! I will be making this again and again. The whole family loved it. Made a few changes, but still turned out fabulous. Didn’t have corn, subbed peas instead. Used 4 small green zucchini and I think it made it even creamier. Really softened the zucchini, browned the edges, didn’t peel them. Tossed with a large container of spinach at the end…. Just because I was too lazy to prepare a salad ;)
    Your sauces are always the best. I love your book and have been following your website for years! Please keep the excellent content coming!

  • Raquel

    This was so fabulous! Unique flavor and the cool thing is the leftovers stayed creamy and didn’t get all dry / congealed like with most pasta recipes. I loved the corn so much next time I think I would double or triple it.

  • Anna

    5 stars
    Laura, your recipes are always ALWAYS top notch. You’re the only blogger who posts a recipe that I then make within two weeks because I’m just so excited to try it out. This pasta dish is perfection. Thank you for all the effort you put into your work and for sharing delicious recipes like this one.

  • Anne

    I love this recipe! It was so tasty. I will definitely make it again. Do you cut the corn off the cob raw? I wasn’t sure so I boiled it for a few minutes first. 

    • Laura

      Hi Anne! I cut the kernels off of a raw cob of corn.
      -L

  • Karen Landes

    5 stars
    I just finished making this yummy dish. That is a five-star pasta for me! What an amazing tasting sauce. I could eat it straight! Yum! Yum! I would make this for guests. I made the exact same except I added chopped shishito peppers with the corn. I made the sauce the night before to save on time. Thanks for your creativity and generosity.

  • Maren

    5 stars
    This was just fabulous! That is not a comment that I may quickly as I tend to be fairly critical but this recipe deserves it.  I made it as written which is also unusual, using  water and jarred peppers.

  • Lita

    5 stars
    Saw this and had to make it immediately. Absolutely delicious. I had small red peppers and one big poblano which was my only swap but I liked it for the heat!

  • Kim H

    5 stars
    Outstanding summer meal! First of all, your timing could not have been better. This recipe dropped in my inbox at 3:30p today while I was looking nervously at my CSA haul, knowing I didn’t have a plan for dinner. So there’s that. But also – it was easy and delicious! I made the sauce using a peeled zucchini and I really have to say I appreciate the cashew-lite sauce. Sometimes cashews can feel a little too rich for me. Anyway, I paused the recipe after making the sauce, took a family walk and then finished up dinner quickly once we got home. My husband and I were really impressed with the creativity of this recipe. A seasonal gem. Thank you! PS – I had extra corn from the CSA so I cut it off the cob and put it in the freezer per your  suggestion in your cookbook. I’ll make your Creamy Jalapeno Corn Chowder next!