Many vegan cream sauces rely on blended nuts or steamed cauliflower, but this sauce is made of beans and pasta water alone—no soaking or blending necessary. It’s important that the beans are adequately hydrated: Once you start mashing, make sure there’s plenty of pasta cooking liquid in the pot and don’t let it evaporate.



½cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling

1cup walnuts, finely chopped

½tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

5garlic cloves, 1 whole, 4 thinly sliced

2sprigs rosemary

215.5-oz. cans cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed

12oz. paccheri, rigatoni, or other large tubular pastaKosher salt


2Tbsp. finely chopped parsleyFreshly ground black pepper


Step 1

Heat ¼ cup oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium. Add walnuts and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring often, until nuts are deeply golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and grate in whole garlic clove; set aside.

Step 2

Wipe out pot. Combine ¼ cup oil and remaining sliced garlic in pot and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until oil around garlic is bubbling vigorously and garlic is beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Firmly crush rosemary in your hand to bruise; add to pot along with beans and stir to coat. Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are just beginning to take on color, about 3 minutes.

Step 3

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 2 minutes less than package directions.

Step 4

When pasta is about 4 minutes away from being done, transfer 1 cup pasta cooking liquid to pot with beans (make sure to keep heat on medium so that the liquid doesn’t evaporate too quickly). Using a wooden spoon, gently mash about three-quarters of beans into a creamy sauce.

Step 5

Using a spider or slotted spoon, transfer pasta to pot with beans and add 1 cup pasta cooking liquid and 2 Tbsp. oil; mix well to combine. Increase heat to medium-high, bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring gently with a heatproof rubber spatula, until sauce coats pasta, about 2 minutes. (Sauce might look soupy but will thicken as it sits so don’t worry!) Finely grate in about one-quarter of zest from lemon, then cut lemon in half. Squeeze in juice from 1 lemon half and add parsley; mix well to combine.

Step 6

Divide pasta among bowls. Drizzle with oil, season with black pepper, and top with reserved nut mixture. Slice remaining lemon half into wedges and serve alongside for squeezing over.


This vegan cashew cream tomato sauce is a plant-based and nutritious option to a traditional tomato sauce made with heavy cream. The sauce is dairy-free, gluten-free, and so easy to make!

overhead photo of white bowl on top of small wood cutting board with rigatoni pasta tossed in a red cashew cream tomato sauce

Ingredients Needed

overhead photo of wood cutting board with bowls of ingredients for cooking pasta

How To Make Pasta With Cashew Cream Tomato Sauce

Before you start making this recipe, you want to make sure that you soak the cashews in water for at least 4 hours. I find I remember to do this best the night before I make a recipe using them!


  • ***NOTE: Before you start making this recipe, you want to make sure that you soak the cashews in water for at least 4 hours. I find I remember to do this best the night before I make a recipe using them!If you have a high-speed blender, you can get away without soaking the cashews for as long. Simply cover them in boiling hot water when you start prepping the rest of the ingredients, and let them soak until you need to use them.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain when cooked.
  • Add all sauce ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend ingredients until smooth and creamy (should take only a few minutes). Adjust seasonings to taste.*If not using a high-speed blender, it may take a bit of additional liquid and time until the sauce is smooth.
  • Finally, drain the pasta and return to the pot. Stir in the creamy tomato sauce, toss until pasta is coated, and serve. You can add some fresh basil, cracked pepper, or red pepper flakes on top if you’d like, too!

Get vegan italiano coobook now