This easy vegan creamy tomato pasta comes together in twenty minutes and uses just nine easy-to-find ingredients (one is optional). It’s perfect for a quick midweek dinner and kids love it!
You’ll love it because:
- It’s super creamy.
- It has that rich slightly sweet flavor that comes from coconut milk reductions.
- Children absolutely love it (just omit the optional red pepper flakes).
- It’s easy to make ahead and can be frozen for ultra quick dinners.
- It’s delicious enough to be eaten alone with fresh hot pasta.
- You can add in leftover or cooked vegetables of choice, olives, baby spinach, sun-dried tomatoes or whatever you want.
Serve this pasta by itself, or add in a simple green salad and some vegan garlic bread for a showstopping meal that is impressive but super easy and quick to prepare.
Ingredients and substitutions
This vegan creamy tomato pasta is a very simple recipe and as such, there’s not a huge amount of wiggle room for substitutions. Let’s have a look at the ingredients below.
Fresh basil – the fresh basil really adds a lot of flavor to this pasta so I wouldn’t omit it unless you dislike basil. Having said that, if you can’t get a hold of any fresh basil, the creamy tomato pasta will still taste really good without, or you can sprinkle a little fresh parsley over.
Olive oil – I love olive oil and use it in a lot of dishes because it adds a nice extra layer of flavor. If you don’t have any olive oil you can substitute it with a good quality vegan butter or a flavorless cooking oil like canola or sunflower.
Red pepper flakes – these are optional, if you don’t like any spice at all leave them out. One teaspoon seems like a lot but the coconut milk really removes most of the heat, making this a mild spiced dish.
Pasta – I use fusilli in this recipe but you can use any pasta of choice.
Garlic – I’m a big fan of the garlic in this recipe, but if you don’t like it you can omit it.
Salt – it seems like quite a bit of salt, one teaspoon, but it is divided among four-six large servings, and the sauce really does need it. If you’re unsure, try just adding half the amount with the tomato paste and then later add the remaining part to taste.
Onions – you definitely need the onions, if you don’t like onions I would suggest a different recipe may be more up your alley.
Coconut milk – don’t substitute coconut milk with another plant-based milk as unfortunately it won’t reduce and thicken the same way, or as fast as coconut milk does. If you’re watching your waistline feel free to swap with light coconut milk but just keep in mind the creamy tomato sauce might not be as creamy as it should be!
How to make it
This vegan creamy tomato pasta is an absolute cinch to make, but if you’re a newer cook or are unsure about any of the steps in the recipe, this is your section. More experienced or confident cooks can skip on down to the recipe card.
To start, measure and prepare all your ingredients. This stops anything from getting burnt later if you miss your place on-page and have to scroll to find out where you were. So peel and chop the garlic and onions, mince the basil, and set the water on to boil for the pasta (unless you’re making the sauce to have later).
Firstly, add the two tablespoons of oil to a large frying pan and heat on medium-high. When the oil is hot (it usually takes around two minutes to heat up on my stovetop but this will vary), add the chopped onions.
Fry the onions for around five minutes until softened, stirring every minute or two to prevent them sticking and over-browning. Then add in the chopped garlic and the (optional) red pepper flakes (image one below) and cook for between one to two minutes, until the garlic is lightly browned.
Add the tomato paste and salt (image two above), and mix well (image three below). Next, you’ll cook the paste for around five minutes until it has darkened and reduced (image four below).
Now simply add in the coconut milk and mix a little, and cook for five minutes (image five below). The coconut milk won’t combine very well for a minute or so until it’s nice and hot, but don’t worry about it. Stir every now and then as the sauce begins to thicken, otherwise, it may stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. Your pasta should be done around about now, reserve a cup of the cooking water before you drain it.
When the sauce is done (image six above) take it off the heat and add in the hot drained pasta plus the chopped basil (image seven below) and toss until well-coated. Next add the pasta cooking water a quarter cup at a time (image eight below), stirring and mixing well in between adding.
Usually, at around half a cup to three-quarters of a cup you’ll find the sauce becomes perfectly silky, but keep the amount you use to your own personal preferences.
This pasta is best served freshly made, some freshly ground black pepper and vegan parmesan are also amazing sprinkled on top.
Salt the water really well for the pasta, trust me, pasta tastes a lot better (even plain pasta) and cooks more evenly in well-salted cooking water. For enough water to cook a pound of pasta, I add a tablespoon of salt to the water (don’t worry, the pasta will only absorb a small fraction of it).
To prepare this vegan creamy tomato pasta ahead of time, make the sauce and keep it covered in the fridge for up to five days, or freeze in an airtight container or freezer bag (defrost before using). To serve just add freshly cooked pasta and a little pasta water.
You can store mixed pasta covered in the fridge for up to five days, and reheat either over the stove (on a low-medium heat) or in the microwave (on high for three-four minutes).
Add a few tablespoons of water before reheating to loosen the sauce, and more after reheating if needed.
Did you make this creamy vegan tomato pasta? Let me know how much you loved it with a star rating in the recipe box, review, or comment below.
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- 1 lb dried pasta of choice
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 ounces tomato paste (170g)
- 1 can coconut milk (13.5 fl oz/400ml)
- Large handful fresh basil´
- To serve (optional): Freshly ground black pepper, vegan parmesan
- Peel and finely chop the onions and garlic. Chop the basil. Heat water for the pasta and salt well. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
- Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan on medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions.
- Fry the onions for five minutes until soft, then add the garlic and (optional) red pepper flakes. Fry one-two minutes more until the garlic is lightly browned.
- Add the tomato paste and salt, mix well, and fry a further five minutes until darkened and reduced - stir well to avoid the paste burning.
- Add the coconut milk and mix, cook a further five minutes until thickened.
- Drain the cooked pasta, reserving a cup of pasta water.
- Add the cooked pasta and basil to the pan with the sauce and toss to mix.
- Add in reserved pasta water, a quarter cup at a time until the sauce is silky smooth yet still clinging to the pasta. You may not need to use all the pasta water (between half a cup to three quarters is usually enough for me).
- Serve straight away, optionally with plenty of freshly ground black pepper and vegan parmesan sprinkled over, and enjoy!
Serving Size1 large plate
Amount Per Serving Calories 502Total Fat 30gSaturated Fat 20gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 8gCholesterol 1mgSodium 593mgCarbohydrates 52gFiber 5gSugar 8gProtein 12g