A simple and delicious meal, this Vegan Lemon Pasta with Cashew Cream Sauce can be made in under 30 minutes for the perfect weeknight or special occasion dinner. Serve it with a caesar salad or artisan bread for an impressive Italian feast.
Who could go for a big bowl of pasta right about now?
With winter so close to being over and spring right on its heels, I figured it was time to transition the two seasons into one glorious plate of lemon cream pasta. I typically think of creamy pasta as a fall and winter food. It's warm, cozy, and comforting. But the zest of this lemon cream sauce is perfect for warmer weather and brighter skies.
This lemon pasta sauce is made with a combination of lemon-infused olive oil, cashew cream, and fresh lemon for an incredibly delectable sauce that no one will believe is vegan.
Let's take a closer look.
Ingredients & Substitutions
This pasta is light, refreshing, and perfect for spring. And it's made with just a handful of ingredients.
- Pasta - I use spaghetti for this recipe but any pasta will do.
- Olive Oil – For this recipe I used Bari Lemon Infused Olive Oil for extra flavor.
- Fresh Parsley
- Parmesan - I recommend Violife parmesan. It is creamy, melty, and tastes exactly how I remember parmesan to taste. If you don’t have access to Violife, you can make your own parmesan.
- Salt and Pepper
- Cashew Cream - This is a combination of raw cashews, water, lemon juice, and salt. Read all about what it is, uses for cashew cream, and how to make it by clicking the link above.
Lemon-Infused Olive Oil
Because this pasta relies on so few ingredients, it is important that we use the highest quality.
For that reason, when choosing olive oil, I turn to Bari Olive Oil Co. Bari Olive Oil Co. is a California-based company that has been making high-quality olive oil for over 80 years.
Bari Olive Oil Co. not only has award-winning premium olive oil. They offer a huge array of products. From flavor-infused oils - I've got my eyes on you, Jalapeño Infused Oil to incredible vinegar - um, yes please Blackberry Vanilla Vinegar, to variety gourmet food, gifts, and even olive oil-based skincare products, Bari Olive Oil Co. is your one-stop-shop for ALL your oil and vinegar needs.
This vegan lemon pasta gave me the perfect opportunity to try out one of Bari's new flavor-infused olive oils: Lemon. The combination of lemon and olive oil is a match made in heaven and is perfect for this easy lemon pasta.
Homemade Cashew Cream
Most cream-based pasta sauces are made with heavy cream. I considered going the soy creamer route but I decided I wanted to keep this recipe soy-free. I then thought about adding coconut milk but coconut milk has a distinct flavor that I didn’t want for this pasta dish. So what adds richness and creaminess without changing the flavor?
Cashew cream, my friends!
I got the idea from my Creamy Tomato Soup recipe (a fan favorite!). Not only is cashew cream rich, creamy, and delicious. It can be made with just 3 ingredients (cashews, lemon juice, and salt) and in less than 2 minutes! That’s hard to beat.
Step One - Make the Cashew Cream
Begin by making the cashew cream. When it comes to cashew cream, you should use a high-powered blender. I recommend a Vitamix. These blenders can be pricy, but my Vitamix is, by far, the most used gadget in my kitchen. Most other blenders are simply not powerful enough to create a cream out of cashews and you’ll end up with gritty cashew cream.
Pro Tip: If you don’t have a high-powered blender, soak the cashews in water for 6 hours prior to using. When ready, drain and rinse the cashews and blend them together in a food processor. They won’t be quite as smooth but it should work.
Throw your ingredients into the blender and blend for about 30 seconds until you have a smooth, delicious cream.
Step Two - Prepare the Pasta
Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling water. Boil the pasta for 7-9 minutes, until al dente. Strain the spaghetti through a colander, reserving at least 1 ½ cup of the pasta cooking liquid. You will need it later!
Step Three - Make the Pasta Sauce
Heat the lemon-infused olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and lemon zest and lightly sauté, stirring occasionally, until garlic is fragrant - about 2 minutes. Stir in the cashew cream and remaining ¼ cup olive oil, whisking together until the sauce is creamy and emulsified.
Whisk in 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid and bring to a simmer.
Step Four - Assemble
Add the to the lemon cream sauce along with the vegan parmesan. You may need to add up to ¼ cup more pasta cooking liquid if the sauce feels too thick. Stir while adding until your sauce is smooth and creamy. Squeeze the lemon into the pasta and add salt and pepper, to taste.
Serving and Storing
Storing - Store leftover pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, gently reheat the pasta over the stove with 1-2 tablespoons of water.
Tips and Tricks
- Use your preferred pasta – any will work! I updated this recipe with thin spaghetti noodles but I have also used bow tie, rotini, and fusilli pasta.
- Cook the pasta to al dente to avoid mushy pasta. If you use thicker or thinner noodles, I recommend following the box’s instructions to cook the pasta al dente. Cook times can range from 5 to 6 minutes to 12 or more depending on the variety.
- If you don’t have a high-powered blender, soak the cashews in water for 6 hours prior to using. When ready, drain and rinse the cashews and blend them together in a food processor. They won’t be quite as smooth but it should work.
Frequently Asked Questions
Sure! Just swap out the spaghetti for gluten-free spaghetti (<<affiliate link) and you have yourself a gluten-free pasta recipe.
Most packaged brands of pasta are vegan but it’s always a good idea to check the ingredients for eggs. Fresh pasta more often contains eggs.
More Vegan Pasta Recipes
- Skinny Creamy Garlic Sauce Pasta
- Vegan Pesto Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta with Bechamel Sauce
- Penne Pasta with Vegan Vodka Sauce
- Vegan Fettuccini Alfredo
Vegan Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce
Vegan Lemon Pasta
- ½ cup raw cashews
- ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- In a large pot, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the spaghetti noodles. Boil pasta for 7-9 minutes, until al dente. Strain through a colander, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Do not rinse pasta with water; the starch of the noodles helps bind the sauce to the pasta.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of Bari's Lemon Infused Olive Oil over medium heat. Add lemon zest and garlic. Lightly sauté, stirring occasionally, until garlic is fragrant and light brown, about 2 minutes.
- Add the cashew cream and the remaining ¼ cup olive oil. Whisk together until the sauce is creamy and emulsified. Whisk in 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid and bring to a simmer.
- Once the noodles are al dente, add them to the lemon cream sauce along with the vegan parmesan. You may need to add up to ¼ cup more pasta cooking liquid if the sauce feels too thick. Stir while adding until your sauce is smooth and creamy. Squeeze the lemon into the pasta and add salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Top with fresh parsley, vegan parmesan, and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
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