This quick and easy vegan creamy tomato pasta recipe is the ultimate last minute plant-based weeknight dinner. It comes together under 20 minutes, uses mostly pantry ingredients and a great meal that all your family will love, even your picky kids (or picky grown-up partner!).
I have been wanting to make a pasta dish for the blog that comes together super quickly, while using mostly pantry ingredients, for a while now. And I'm talking about a 20 min kind of fast recipe. I have got this tahini pasta for these quick pasta nights, but I wanted something tomato-ish. Because tomato pasta makes life worth living (tomato pasta and my children, obv).
While the recipe itself is SO easy to make and I will go ahead and happily proclaim myself a pretty good pasta dish maker (thank you, thank you), it was somehow more challenging to come up with this recipe. Because I wanted it to be a totally crave-able kind of dish. A perfect Friday-night-Netflix-movie-large-pasta-bowl recipe. Still healthy-ish, but just a little plumped up.
So, I initially tried all the healthier twist that I have under my belt (or is it under my sleeve?) to create that creamy effect for the sauce, like blended cashews (have you tried this basic white pasta sauce yet?) or tofu (you should check out this creamy cajun pasta dish). But cashews and tofu were just not the right fit for this one. So then came the coconut milk. When I was staring at the pan admiring the thick cream slowly mixing in with the crushed garlicky tomatoes, then I knew right away that I had found the perfect match.
A super creamy, silky, thin pink sauce that will have you lick your bowl, my friend.
The concentrated full fat coconut milk makes this sauce a little more indulgent, perhaps, but if a coconut milk sauce is your worst cheating night, then you are in business, my friend.
And fine, I'll just say it. I used white noodles. I just went for it. I can be that bad too, sometimes.
Why you will love this vegan creamy tomato pasta recipe
- No blender required, the sauce is all made in a large pan
- Only pantry ingredients (plus fresh garlic)
- It's such a kid's favorite!
- Quick and stupid-easy
- Can easily be customized and boosted with healthy veggies or beans
- Dairy-free, nut-free and completely plant-based, of course!
Bonus cheesy panko topping
I first saw a pasta recipe using a panko topping in the Crumbs and Caramel blog and knew I had to include something similar in this recipe as well. This panko topping version is super easy to make (takes 5 min), no cooking/roasting required and adds AH-MAZING texture in the bowl. I made mine quite cheesy with a generous share of nutritional yeast and also realized that no oil was needed to have that crispy effect I was looking for. It's totally optional, but highly recommended. If you don't make it, them sprinkle your bowl with nutritional yeast.
Ingredients you'll need to make the BEST vegan creamy tomato pasta dish
You'll need mostly pantry ingredients, super easy!
- Noodles of your choice
- Canned crushed tomatoes
- Canned coconut milk
- Nutritional yeast
- Garlic cloves
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Garlic powder
- Dried basil
A coconut-tomato sauce that's not very much coconut-y in flavor
The sauce is surprisingly not strong in coconut flavor. The garlic, nutritional yeast and crushed tomatoes somehow balances perfectly the sweet coconut taste. Sure, you will have hints of its flavor, but I didn't find it to be the predominant flavor.
Can I use a different kind of tomatoes other than crushed tomatoes?
I tried using tomato paste, diced tomatoes and even fresh tomatoes, but none of them gave me the creamy thin sauce I was craving. The crushed tomatoes are super saucy and mix well with the coconut milk to create a pink sauce, while still having tiny pieces of tomatoes in the sauce as well for added texture. It's really the perfect match.
When I ran out of crushed tomatoes, I simply used an immersion blender and pulsed a can of diced tomatoes and it gave me a similar result. So keep this in mind if that's all you have.
How to make this pink sauce pasta dish
- Start by cooking the pasta in a large pot of boiling water.
- While the noodles are cooking, make the sauce in a large pan: Start by cooking the crushed garlic for about 30-60 seconds while stirring in the pan. I like to use a tiny amount of oil when cooking garlic and make sure it does not turn brown or burn. So stay around, and have your cans opened up ready to go before you add your garlic to the pan.
- Then, add the rest of the sauce ingredients: crushed tomatoes, coconut milk, nutritional yeast and salt. Stir often and keep cooking at a low simmer for about 10-15 minutes, uncovered. The sauce while thicken a bit but mostly will remain thin. It is ready when it has reduced to almost half of its original volume.
- Add the cooked noodles to the pan with the sauce and stir. Serve warm with a generous sprinkle of the panko topping.
Make the crispy panko topping
- Simply combine in a bowl the panko breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, dried basil and salt.
Watch how to make it
A word on the noodles
Short noodles with holes work best for this recipe. The holes will help to grab on more of the sauce when eating.
Also, I used 12 oz of noodles to make it, which gave me a pasta dish that was moderately saucy. I found that a whole box of 16 oz of dried pasta was just too much for the amount of sauce. You can easily double the sauce if looking for extra saucy pasta meal too.
One more thing: make sure to keep your noodles extra al dente! Once you add them to the warm sauce, they will cook a little more, so just keep this in mind.
Optional add-ins for this vegan creamy tomato pasta
I like this dish just as is, but you can really go overboard and fill your plate with lots of veggies (broccoli, mushrooms, green peas and spinach would all work well) or cooked beans, especially lentils, just like I did in this creamy baked ziti dish.
How to make this vegan creamy tomato pasta dish completely gluten-free
The sauce itself is naturally gluten-free, so just make sure to use gluten-free noodles if you need to.
Also, choose a gluten-free panko breadcrumbs when making the crispy topping.
This recipe makes for amazing leftovers, so don't hesitate to double it to get a few lunches out of it, too. Keep in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. The noodles will keep soaking on the sauce as it stores, so just keep in mind that the texture will change over time.
If you know you will end up with leftovers, then I would consider only combining the noodles with the sauce that you need for that meal, so you can store the leftover noodles and sauce apart.
Other vegan tomato pasta you might like
- Vegetable pasta sauce
- Hearty marinara sauce
- Tofu bolognese
- One-pot cabbage tomato pasta
- Lasagna Roll-ups
- Vegan baked ziti
- Penne pomodoro
- Vegan American goulash
- Vegan avocado tomato pasta
- TVP Bolognese sauce
I hope you enjoy this vegan creamy tomato pasta as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how it was. Your feedback is so helpful!
Vegan Creamy Tomato Pasta (Pink Sauce Pasta)
- 12 oz short pasta of your choice - cooked al dente
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp dried basil
- ⅛ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp salt
For the sauce
- 2-3 clove of garlic
- 15 oz crushed tomatoes
- 15 oz canned coconut milk - full or reduced fat
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp salt - or to taste
- Cook the noodles accordingly to the packaging (keep al dente).
- Make the cheesy breadcrumbs by combining the panko, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, salt and dried basil in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Warm up a large non stick pan and cook the garlic for about 30-60 seconds (in a little oil if you want). Stay around and don't let the garlic burn. Then, add the crushed tomatoes, coconut milk, nutritional yeast and salt and stir to combine. Keep cooking for about 10 minutes, uncovered, while stirring often. The sauce should reduce to roughly half of its original volume, but will still look thin, this is what you want.
- Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and combine. Remove from the heat and serve topped with the cheesy panko. Enjoy!
- Store any leftovers in a covered container for up to 4 days in the fridge.
- Make this recipe gluten-free by using gluten-free noodles and a gluten-free panko breadcrumbs.