Vegan Pasta with Creamy Lemon Sauce
This recipe is for all those who think pasta sauces must always be red, and if you would consider a cream sauce, then in combination with spinach only. Trust me, you can really surprise a lot of people with this quick lemony sauce – and it's done in just 20 minutes.
This dish ended up on my plate when I was about to travel for a few days and wanted to cook a quick lunch before with the few ingredients that were left in my fridge: an open package of plant-based heavy cream and lemon. So I gathered the remaining ingredients from my pantry, threw them into a saucepan, and was delighted with the result! In fact, “Pesto al Limone“ is of course, also an Italian dish - but without the cream and a good helping of Parmesan cheese instead. So I wouldn't even dare to say that my recipe is a variation of that dish, but rather slips by the Italian pasta by accident and gives it a friendly wave.
Instead, our lemony vegan sauce is based on a mixture of vegetable broth, plant-based heavy cream, and lemon juice. They simmer together until they are reduced by about half. This way, the lemon juice loses some of its strong acidity and becomes more of a delightfully refreshing note in the sauce – no worries, it definitely comes through due to the process of boiling the sauce down. Nutritional yeast provides an umami flavor, and almond or cashew butter adds a great creaminess and richness. Depending on the color of your nut butter, the color of your sauce will change, of course.
Don't worry if the sauce gets a rather odd consistency during the cooking process – it seems too watery when you boil it down, then too thick due to the nut butter, and yet it becomes wonderfully creamy once you mix the sauce directly with the pasta and add some of its cooking water.
For a crunchy topping, we welcome back our garlicky breadcrumbs, which you may already know from our recipe for pasta in creamy white bean sauce. Especially with light, creamy sauces, it goes just wonderfully as a contrast – today even with some extra chopped parsley.
Vegan Pasta with Creamy Lemon Sauce
For the pasta:
- 250 g (9 oz) fettuccine (or any other kind of pasta)
- 1 lemon
- 200 ml (1 cup) vegetable broth
- 250 ml (1 cup) plant-based heavy cream
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 3 tbsp almond or cashew butter
For the crispy panko topping:
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 50 g (2 oz) panko breadcrumbs (or classic breadcrumbs)
Start with the crispy breadcrumb topping. Finely chop garlic and parsley. Heat olive oil in a frying pan, then add panko breadcrumbs and toast them for approx. 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown. Add finely chopped garlic, and keep frying for approx. 1-2 minutes. Remove the frying pan from heat, add chopped parsley, and season the crispy panko topping with salt and pepper to taste, then set aside.
Finely grate the zest of the lemon and squeeze out its juice. Add vegetable broth, plant-based heavy cream, and lemon juice to a saucepan. Let the mixture simmer over medium heat for approx. 15 minutes, or until the sauce is reduced by half.
In the meantime, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until it's very al dente, for approx. 2 minutes shorter than the cooking time written on the package. Before draining, reserve a cup of the cooking water and set it aside.
Once the sauce has been reduced by half, add nutritional yeast, almond or cashew butter, and lemon zest. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Add the drained pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. Add as much of the cooking water as needed until you get a creamy sauce that coats the pasta.
Serve pasta with the crispy panko topping and some fresh black pepper. If desired, add some very thin slices of lemon zest on top.