This creamy vegan mushroom pasta is the best, easy winter meal! Cashew cream makes this luxurious, dairy-free mushroom sauce possible. Pair with your favorite pasta for a comforting dinner that’s ready in 30 minutes.
At the start of last week, which now feels like an entire lifetime ago, I made this creamy vegan mushroom pasta. It was one of the fastest, tastiest meals I’ve made at home in a while.
Mushrooms are one of the ingredients most often used to create “meaty” textures in vegan dishes. Even so, I sometimes forget about them in my own cooking. While I fold leafy greens, tomatoes, broccoli, and cauliflower into pasta often, I seem to overlook mushrooms. Until now.
I can’t think of a better winter comfort food dish than this one. Mushrooms give the pasta an unmistakable heartiness and lots of umami. The creamy mushroom sauce is rich but not heavy, and of course there’s the pasta, which is my personal comfort food favorite.
I was sort of begrudging about cooking through most of this past fall. Typically when the new year starts I get reinvigorated about cooking again, though under the circumstances we’ll see what early January looks like around here.
What I do know is that this mushroom pasta is a keeper. If I’m not able to cook a lot of new food this month, I’ll surely be revisiting this recipe—maybe more than once.
How to make creamy mushroom sauce
To make the creamy mushroom sauce that gives this pasta dish life, you’ll begin by sautéing mushrooms.
You can really use any type of mushroom here. I like plain old white/button mushrooms, honestly—and they’re packed with good nutrition.
You can also use shiitake, cremini, portobello, oyster, or enoki mushrooms. If there is another type of mushroom that you love to cook with, don’t hesitate to add it.
You’ll have the option of sautéing your mushrooms in either butter or olive oil. Either is fine, though I personally think that butter deepens and improves the flavor of the mushroom pasta. If you use vegan butter, you can use any brand/variety that you like.
Sauté the mushrooms and garlic for about 7-8 minutes: this is enough time for the mushrooms to reduce in size and release their juices. Then, you’ll add a splash of white wine to the dish (optional, if that’s not for you) and allow it to cook off for a few minutes.
Finally, you’ll stir vegetable broth into the sauce, along with this recipe’s source of creaminess: cashew cream.
DIY vegan cream
I tend to sound like a broken record when I sing the praises of cashew cream, but I just can’t help it. Cashew cream creates the luxurious, creamy texture in so many of my favorite recipes.
Here’s just a short list of pastas, soups, and desserts that are creamier and more comforting because this dairy-free cooking hack exists:
- Dark chocolate scones
- Creamy mushroom spinach orzo
- Creamy beet kale fusilli
- Pasta alla Vecchia Bettola
- Classic vegan pumpkin pie
- Magical vegan sticky toffee pudding
- Cozy vegan cauliflower gratin
- Creamy vegan skillet lasagna
- Creamy cauliflower turmeric kale soup
- One pot Italian quinoa and lentils
I use my all-purpose cashew cream in all of these recipes. If you have a tree nut allergy, you can try blending 1/2 cup vegan tofu-based cream cheese (i.e. Tofutti) with 2/3 cups water to replace it.
If you have a cashew allergy, but you’re not allergic to other tree nuts, then pine nuts work really well as a substitute for cashews.
Assembling vegan mushroom pasta
Once the creamy mushroom sauce is hot and in your pan and ready to go, it’s time to bring the mushroom pasta together.
I recommend bringing water to boil for cooking the pasta before you do anything else for the recipe. The sauce doesn’t take long to prepare, while boiling pasta water does!
By the time the sauce is ready, your pasta should be cooked al dente or on its way there. Next, you’ll fold the cooked pasta into the mushroom mixture, add some of my cashew parmesan cheese (or a store-bought vegan parmesan that you love), and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Simmer the pasta for a few minutes over low heat. I usually add 1/4-1/2 cup pasta water to help keep the sauce loose, yet not runny.
Finally, you can serve your pasta with any desired garnishes. My go-to is lazy—just extra cashew parm—but fresh herbs are nice, too.
What type of pasta do you use?
The choice of pasta in this dish is yours. For the most part, I use regular, dry semolina pasta in all of my vegan pasta dishes.
Occasionally—especially when a pasta supper is a bit lacking in plant protein—I use a legume-based pasta instead. My favorite legume pasta is the red lentil rotini from Tolerant Foods. I don’t prefer these pastas from a texture or taste perspective, but I do like the protein content a lot!
I also like to use some whole grain pastas in my cooking. My favorite are the whole grain reginetti from Sfoglini, and I think their nutty flavor would work really well in this recipe.
As far as pasta shape goes, I love to make the mushroom pasta with fettuccine, as pictured. But a medium pasta shape will also work well: fusilli, rigatoni, casarecce, and cavatappi are all good options.
If you need to use a gluten-free pasta, then you should of course pick your favorite option and proceed with it in the recipe.
The creamy vegan mushroom sauce can be prepared up to 3 days before making the mushroom pasta. It can also be frozen for up to 6 weeks. This makes an already fast meal even faster and more convenient.
Storing creamy vegan mushroom pasta
The one downside of this otherwise delightful pasta is that the leftovers can get a little gluey as they are stored.
When you warm the pasta up, I recommend reheating it in a shallow pan or pot. Add a splash of broth or non-dairy milk to help loosen it up as it heats—this makes a big difference for texture. In a rush, it’s fine for you to heat the leftover pasta in the microwave. Be sure to cover the pasta when you do this, so that it doesn’t dry out.
Store the mushroom pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days. The leftovers can also be frozen for up to 6 weeks.
- 8 ounces pasta of choice (any variety of medium or long pasta is fine)
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter or olive oil
- 1 pound cleaned mushrooms, sliced or chopped into bite-sized pieces (I recommend white, cremini, shiitake, portobello, or oyster mushrooms)
- 2 large or 3 small cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (optional, see note)
- 3/4 cup vegetable broth
- 2/3 cup cashew cream
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (substitute 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup cashew parmesan cheese (or another vegan parmesan cheese of choice; reserve some extra for serving)
- Bring a large, salted pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta till al dente, according to package instructions or for a minute less.
- As the water heats and pasta cooks, heat the butter or oil in a large, deep, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms have released all of their juices and reduced considerably in size, about 7-8 minutes.
- Add the white wine to the skillet. Continue cooking the mushrooms and garlic, stirring often, until the wine has almost completely cooked down.
- Add the broth to the skillet and continue to cook the mushrooms, stirring often, for 2 more minutes. Stir the cashew cream and salt into the mushrooms. Reduce the heat to low.
- As soon as the pasta is ready, drain it, reserving a cup of cooking water. Add the drained pasta to the skillet with the creamy mushroom sauce. Stir everything together and continue to cook over low heat. Add the thyme, freshly ground black pepper to taste, and the cashew parmesan cheese (or vegan parmesan of choice). The pasta should be creamy and have some looseness; if it starts to thicken, stir in a half cup (or so) of pasta cooking water to loosen it up. Serve the pasta right away, with extra cashew parmesan or fresh herbs if desired.
I used to have a really hard time pulling off simple pasta dishes. As strange as it may sound, I had a mush easier time with baked pasta and pasta casseroles than with pasta that was made-to-order, so to speak. There’s a knack to getting pasta right, and I definitely didn’t have it.
Not sure if I qualify as having that knack now, but I’m becoming much more intuitive. This mushroom pasta and my beans and greens pasta are now two of my favorite, low-key meals. Practice makes progress ?
From a gray, late winter afternoon in NYC—and day 6 of my quarantine—I’m wishing you a cozy evening.