Pasta and Vegetables with White Sauce

by on March 21, 2012
FavoriteLoadingAdd to Recipe Box

Pasta and Vegetables with White Sauce

Welcome to another installment of My Family’s Favorite Recipes!

If my daughter had her way, we’d eat pasta at every meal. Lasagna, mac and cheese, chili mac–she’s not picky, she’ll devour any of them. About once a week I give in to her demands, and the dish I most often make is this one, which she calls “That Pasta with All the Vegetables and White Sauce” because I’ve never come up with a catchy name for it. Similar to but much lighter than a vegan Alfredo, it’s perfect for my family because it fulfills my daughter’sΒ desire for noodles and my need for vegetables. In fact, it contains twice as many vegetables as pasta, a good thing in my opinion.

E got lucky this week because I made it twice. Since it’s always been one of those “throw in a little this and a little that until it tastes good” dishes, I didn’t have exact ingredient amounts, so I had to play with the recipe a bit to get to where it would work without my giving you vague instructions like “If it looks too dry, add more milk” or “Keep adding garlic until you repel vampires.” There’s still a little of that, but if you follow the basic recipe, you should come out with pasta and vegetables that are coated in a light, flavorful sauce that tastes surprisingly rich for being so low in fat. It’s one of those “home-cooking” dishes that’s good enough to serve to company.

The recipe below uses a full pound of pasta and makes a lot; besides being hearty eaters, my family likes to have leftovers to fight over for the next day or two. If you’re cooking for one or two, you may want to make half a recipe, so I’ve made that easy for you by including a printer page for the 4-servings version of the recipe. And don’t miss the note on how to make this a Ridiculously Easy recipe, which, truth be told, is how I usually make it.
Pasta and Vegetables with White Sauce

Pasta and Vegetables with White Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Use any vegetables you like instead of the broccoli and cauliflower. You can make this a Ridiculously Easy recipe by using frozen vegetables (see notes below).
Serves: 8
  • 1 pound whole wheat rotini pasta (or gluten-free pasta)
  • 1 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas (or 1 can, rinsed and drained)
  • 1 head broccoli (about 1 pound), cut into small florets and stems reserved for another use
  • 1 head cauliflower (about 1 pound), cut into florets
  • 2 cups plain unsweetened soy milk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • generous grating of black pepper
  • 5 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch or potato starch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt or salt-free seasoning (or to taste)
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and cook the pasta according to instructions on package. About a minute before it's done, add the chickpeas and cook briefly to heat them through. When the pasta is al dente, scoop out and set aside a cup of the cooking water. Then drain the pasta well and return to the pot or a large serving bowl.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, steam the vegetables until just tender. Add them to the pasta.
  3. While the pasta and the vegetables are cooking, make the sauce: combine in a medium saucepan the soy milk, garlic, herbs, and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes or until pasta is done. Add 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and the nutritional yeast. Stir the starch into 1/4 cup of cool water and add it to the sauce, stirring well. Increase heat and cook until the sauce boils and thickens slightly. Check seasonings and add salt to taste.
  4. Pour the sauce over the pasta and vegetables and stir gently to coat. If the pasta needs more moisture, add a little of the reserved pasta water. Sprinkle with extra red pepper flakes if desired and serve immediately.
The pasta absorbs the sauce as it sits, so keep the reserved pasta water to add moisture when reheating leftovers.

To make this a Ridiculously Easy recipe, use two 12-16 ounce packages of frozen vegetables. I like to use combinations such as California blend or Italian blend. The easiest way to do this is to use extra water when cooking the pasta and add the vegetables to the pasta water about 4 minutes before the pasta is due to be ready (according to package directions). After the water returns to a boil, cook the pasta and vegetables about 4 more minutes or until pasta is al dente, adding the chickpeas near the end. Drain well and proceed with Step 3.

Make a zestier version by stirring in some kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, or roasted red peppers when you add the sauce.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/8 of recipe Calories: 374 Fat: 4.3g Carbohydrates: 71.5g Sugar: 8.2g Sodium: 115.5mg Fiber: 16g Protein: 20g

Please pin!

Similar to but lighter than a vegan alfredo, pasta, chickpeas, and lots of vegetables are tossed together in a light, creamy, vegan sauce.

Leave a Comment

Thanks for visiting my site! All comments are read and appreciated, and if you have a question, I will try to respond within a couple days. Note: If you are leaving a comment for the first time, it will be held for moderation. Be patient and it will appear as soon as I have a chance to approve it.

Want to have your photo alongside your comment? Sign up for a Gravatar!

{ 73 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lori Lynn March 21, 2012 at 12:39 pm

This looks great and simple. I want to try it soon, but I don’t quite understand the directions. Are the pasta and the veggies cooked together? At what point? Please clarify.


2 Susan Voisin March 21, 2012 at 12:45 pm

In the general directions, they are cooked separately. You can steam the vegetables any way you like–I used a stovetop steamer but you could also do them in a microwave. In the variation using frozen vegetables, you add the veggies to the pasta water during the last few minutes of cooking. That works better for frozen vegetables than for fresh ones since frozen veggies are already partially cooked.


3 shirley March 21, 2012 at 12:59 pm

yummy yummy yummy, pasta, chickpeas and vegetables I’m in and may actually do this tonight.


4 Livie248 March 21, 2012 at 1:30 pm

I have tried or bought nutritional yeast. Does anyone have suggestions about preferred brands, brands to avoid etc….. Thanks!


5 Trf42658 March 21, 2012 at 3:24 pm

I agree. So far I haven’t fount any I really like.


6 moonwatcher March 21, 2012 at 7:11 pm

This looks ymmy, Susan, and homey. πŸ™‚ I will try it with almond milk sometime.




7 Susan Voisin March 21, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Check out my post on nutritional yeast:

The brand I use is Red Star.


8 Frugal Vegan Mom March 21, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Bookmarking this recipe, thanks for posting these easy family favorites, I’m not much of a cook to begin with, so it’s exactly the kind of recipes I need!


9 Kale Crusaders March 21, 2012 at 3:50 pm

A fun take on my standard pasta + chickpeas + veggies dinner. Thanks for the inspiration!

Like you, I *try* to limit pasta dinners to once a week.


10 Rebekah March 21, 2012 at 4:22 pm

This looks like exactly the kind of recipe I love. It’s so simple, uses things I already have on hand, and has such perfect flavors…I can already taste it. I’m picturing it with spaghetti squash or over brown rice as well!


11 Alexandria Lewis March 21, 2012 at 4:56 pm

This is great and I am sure it will become a favorite in my house as well.


12 Cat ~ The Verdant Life March 21, 2012 at 6:22 pm

What an easy, yummy recipe. I love recipes like this for using up whatever veggies are languishing in my fridge. And I’m right there with your daughter; pastaholics unite!


13 Art Moskowitz March 21, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Susan, What does the nutritional yeast do for this and other recipes. I’d rather not use the corn/potato starch. Substitute?


14 Susan Voisin March 21, 2012 at 6:49 pm

The nutritional yeast adds depth of flavor without adding salt. You can leave it out, but it tastes better with it. As for the starch, you could also leave that out and have a slightly thinner sauce. Another option might be to cook it a little longer after adding the pasta water so that it reduces a little.


15 Susan Voisin March 21, 2012 at 7:51 pm

Forgot to mention, check out my post on nutritional yeast for more info:


16 Janine March 21, 2012 at 7:57 pm

This is such homey food goodness, I love it and can see why it’s popular in your home. I’m only starting to familiarize myself with some different uses for nutritional yeast, so thanks for sharing!


17 Alex March 23, 2012 at 11:29 pm

You should try ‘sunny mushroom nuggets’ recipe from ‘Healhty Happy Life’, they are so good and contain oodles of nutri. yeast.


18 Tristen March 21, 2012 at 9:10 pm

I was so happy to get this recipe today! I was wondering what to make tonight and this was it! I didn’t have rotini pasta so I broke up the whole wheat spaghetti in the pantry and used it instead. I added some spinach, carrots and tomatoes because I had them to use. It was great! Loved the sauce. The kids eat it too πŸ™‚ and I have left overs for lunch tomorrow. Thanks!


19 Jill Princehouse March 22, 2012 at 12:35 am

Susan: I’ve been making a similar version of this except with more variety of veggies and with tomato sauce. It never dawned on me to make it with a light white sauce. This looks delicious. We’re traveling until Friday-and this will be our Friday dinner. It’s so nice that you do all this work for us and keep us trying new things. Hearty thanks!


20 Archana March 22, 2012 at 3:12 am

our favourite too.


21 Mel March 22, 2012 at 4:00 am

This sounds really delicious, just my type of flavours! I’m bookmarking this to try soon.


22 laloofah March 22, 2012 at 7:54 am

E, you’re my kinda girl! πŸ™‚ I love pasta too – having an Italian mother, it’s my main comfort food and I love it mixed with veggies (and with “nooch.”) I imagine the white sauce takes it to a new comfort level and can’t wait to try it! Into my Recipe Box it goes!


23 VeganCouchPotato March 22, 2012 at 12:44 pm

That looks like a dish that I can make! Looks like pasta and veggies are going to be a new staple food for me πŸ™‚


24 Jared March 22, 2012 at 3:46 pm

This looks great! I am one for the “little of this” or “swap that out for what you may have on hand” recipes. Flexibility in the kitchen saves time and money for me! Thanks for another promising recipe, Susan.


25 Brenda March 22, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Oh YUM!! I made this tonight, and cannot get over how “ridiculously easy” it is!! I just LOVE it!! I used the frozen veggies (I can get one pound bags that are just broccoli and cauliflower). The boil in the water at the same time as the pasta is just too, too wonderful!!

I’m a big eater, but still halved this, and will easily get 4 servings out of it. Not being a big cauliflower lover, but knowing how good it is for me, I put most of the cauliflower chunks (once they were cooked) into the blender with the rest of the sauce ingredients, and voila …. still getting my cauliflower without knowing it!!

I think I’m going to increase the garlic by at least 1 more clove (for half a recipe), and add in some onion as well.

Susan … you’re inspired and inspiring!!



26 Susan Voisin March 22, 2012 at 10:08 pm

I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Your pictures look terrific!


27 reluctant cook March 22, 2012 at 8:42 pm

Pasta and Vegetables with White Sauce could be called Vegi Pasta Blanc. Jill Princeton’s version would then become Vegi Pasta Rouge. Definitely a recipe to try.


28 Megan Miller March 22, 2012 at 9:45 pm

I made this for dinner and it turned out really good. I found that I liked the vegetables in the sauce so much I might just make veggies and sauce and forget the noodles next time πŸ™‚ Thanks for another great recipe


29 Julie March 23, 2012 at 6:06 pm

I just made this with brown rice instead of the pasta and it was great. My family loves pasta and we had it the last few days in a row so I wanted to use something else. I made the sauce exactly as you have it but I mixed in about six cups of cooked rice, 12 oz of roasted broccoli (that’s all I had), and about 6 oz. of roasted asparagas (picked from my garden today)! What a great meal and all I used was the pot to make the sauce and a cookie sheet to roast the veggies! Thank you!


30 Yochi March 24, 2012 at 9:03 am

Isn’t there a mistake in tagging the recipe as “soy free” while the white-sauce is made of soy-milk?


31 Susan Voisin March 24, 2012 at 10:07 am

It says “soy milk or other non-dairy milk.”


32 MJ March 24, 2012 at 11:11 am

How about calling it Generation-Buster Pasta! πŸ˜‰ Will be making it once my leftovers are gone.


33 heidi March 24, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Since I’m watching calories, I’m going to try subbing spaghetti squash or spiralized zucchini in place of the pasta; I’ll bet it will still be yummy! Thanks, Susan, for the terrific job you do in helping us to prepare delicious, healthy meals (my hubby thanks you, too πŸ™‚


34 Richa@HobbyandMore March 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Thats a simple and beautiful pasta. would love it on one of the weekdays.


35 Miriam March 25, 2012 at 6:41 pm

Looks yummy! Can’t wait to try.


36 Marsha March 25, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Pasta with all the vegetables and white sauce!


37 Carolyn March 26, 2012 at 8:18 pm

This is our dinner tonight. It made a HUGE amount! WOW! It’s just me and the three kids while my husband is out of town, so we’ll be eating this for lunch for a while. It was good!


38 urban vegan March 28, 2012 at 6:57 am

Looks delish, Susan!


39 Charissa March 28, 2012 at 9:27 am

I made this for dinner using almond milk and it was phenomenal! You’re recipes never disappoint Susan thank you for all you do!


40 Fiona March 28, 2012 at 8:57 pm

I just made this for dinner for my family with almond milk instead of soymilk and kidney beans instead of chickpeas. We liked that there were a lot of veggies (we used your R.E. version) and I liked how easy and healthy it was, but the older folks found it a bit spicy and we all found it a bit bland. I think I may make it again but I think I will try your suggestions for making it zestier and perhaps replace some of the milk with a cashew sauce, since I’m not concerned about fat.


41 Vegetarians March 29, 2012 at 10:20 pm

This recipe is interesting. Do you recommend any substitute when I don’t have a nutritional yeast? Or can I just leave that ingredient out? Thanks!


42 Susan Voisin March 29, 2012 at 10:29 pm

It just adds flavor. You can leave it out, though it might be a little bland.


43 elizabeth March 30, 2012 at 11:43 am

Is arrowroot an okay sub for the cornstarch? What kind of salt or salt-free seasoning do you usually use for this?


44 Susan Voisin March 30, 2012 at 11:54 am

Arrowroot should be fine; it usually takes less of it, but this sauce is only lightly thickened, so a little extra thickening will be good. As for salt, I’m not salt-free myself, so I use regular iodized salt in this, but if you have a salt-free blend that you like that will complement the seasonings, then you can use it.


45 elizabeth March 30, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Thank you, I’ll try salt, I haven’t found an all-purpose salt free blend that I like anyway. I’m really enjoying your raisin dressing, I’ll be making it a lot. Last night I had a spinach salad with chopped apples, carrots, spicy tofu,, and some wheat berries. All I need is some Vulcan Salt!


46 A Fan! April 5, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Hi Susan,
I made this last night and my family loved it. I will definitely make it again! I’ve tred four of your recipes so far and they were all great. I’m pretty new to nutrition eating/cooking; as I browsed your site I saw mention of a cookbook? Do you have it available yet?


47 A Fan! April 5, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Whoops, meant ‘nutrarian’ not ‘nutrition’.


48 judyk April 8, 2012 at 6:36 pm

I made this last night for Easter dinner tonight…..I used Asparagus & Sun-dried tomatoes…letting it sit over night really thickened up the sauce ….it was delicious…REALLY good and really easy!


49 jessr April 9, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Made this tonight and loved it! Blended a block of silken tofu into the sauce (using a hand blender) to give a bit extra sauce + creaminess. Also added some wasabi powder for a surprise kick. Really loved it. Thanks for the concept of “ridiculously easy” using frozen veggies – really does save a TON of time!


50 Thistlechick April 11, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Hi Susan, Love your recipes! Thank you soooo much for sharing your wonderful recipes and the time you put into your blog. Many folks (unknowingly) will automatically use soy milk, not realizing that all soy is genetically modified, when there are so many better alternatives today, and Coconut milk is sooo scrumptious in desert and sauce recipes!


51 Susan Voisin April 11, 2012 at 12:29 pm

From what I’ve read, organic soy is not genetically modified. Do you have a source that says it is?


52 LJ April 12, 2012 at 6:50 pm

This one is a huge favorite with my boyfriend and me. I made it for the first time just a couple weeks ago, and have already made it a few more with some variations. GREAT way to use up veggies left over in the fridge! Thank you! It’s just as good cold the next day for lunch!


53 Laina April 28, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Hi Susan,

Wasn’t feeling well and this looked easy and delicious ……….it was on both counts.

Thanks again for another winner. I look forward to rising to the challenge of creating some variations or keeping it the same. Next time I will add more garlic.

Even dh said it was good πŸ™‚ !


54 Yan May 2, 2012 at 1:54 pm

I just tried this today, but I think it went something wrong, it was too hot, maybe I just put too much pepper in it and I forgot to buy nutritional yeast, but I cooked without it anyway… πŸ™‚ thanks for this post.


55 VeganFaery May 7, 2012 at 2:48 pm

I spotted this in your family favourites file and I have to agree! My kids loved it when I made it a few weeks ago!


56 PatB May 7, 2012 at 6:34 pm

I can’t use soy milk because of allergy. How would rice milk work in this recipe? Otherwise oat milk?


57 Susan Voisin May 7, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Yes, any non-dairy milk will do.


58 Allison May 16, 2012 at 8:09 pm

Made this tonight and it was excellent. I used farmers market cauliflower and broccoli (its in season!), lots of fresh basil, along with spring garlic. I made a few changes. I added a jar of trader joes fire roasted red and yellow bell peppers (sliced) to the sauce for some extra flavor. I used unsweetened coconut beverage for the non-milk. I was worried it might have a hint of coconut flavor left over but it worked well, and added trader joes 21 season salute instead of red peppers flakes (dont like them) and a little over a teaspoon of italian seasoning. Will definitely make again!


59 Sherry June 12, 2012 at 10:37 am

Delicious for dinner and even better the next day, cold with pickled beets.


60 Sharon June 21, 2012 at 1:59 am

Thank you so much for this recipe! I made it tonight with quinoa pasta & it was delicious! A great way to sneak in extra veggies! This is going into my weekly rotation. I’m going to try all your family favorites now! Thanks again!


61 Karen July 7, 2012 at 10:27 am

Hi Susan, would you consider this E2L worthy? Looks delicious, thanks for posting as always!


62 Susan Voisin July 7, 2012 at 10:39 am

If you use whole grain pasta, I think this qualifies as ETL-friendly for occasional use. Because the pasta is a refined starch, I wouldn’t eat it every day, but my family has “pasta day” about once a week, and this is real treat on those occasions. And you can use even more vegetables and less pasta to make it even “friendlier.” πŸ™‚


63 Laina July 7, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Hi Karen. Are you on the life plan? The life plan allows for ten percent of calories to be non-etl.

So this isn’t something you would eat every day, but it’s a healthy dish even with the whole wheat or whole grain pasta.

As Susan said, you can add more veggies which I do. πŸ™‚ It’s a lovely flavorful dish!

I think you’ll be happy if you give this recipe a try. If you’d rather avoid the pasta, use only veggies.

Laina. πŸ™‚


64 Brenda October 16, 2012 at 4:39 pm


Here’s a pic of this sauce made thicker with the addition of ALOT of cauliflower. I made this sauce the first time as you directed, and added a little bit of cauliflower to the sauce, pureeing it in the blender.

This time, I just heated the milk and other sauce ingredients to just under a boil in the microwave, poured all of this, plus the better part of 1 head of steamed cauliflower into the blender, and whizzed away.

Here’s a pic of how thick and “cheesy” it came out:

One other nice flavor addition was that instead of hot pepper flakes, I added about 1/5 or so of a large, dried ancho chili pepper in (those are the ones that have no heat, just flavor). Really supplied a nice undercurrent of flavor without being overly bold. The blender pureed it along with all the other hot sauce ingredients, and the pic shows what came out.

Thanks again for a great sauce recipe!!


65 Brenda October 16, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Oops .. put in the wrong link!! Here’s the link to the picture:


66 Lani Muelrath, the Plant-Based Fitness Expert December 1, 2012 at 4:19 pm


I just love eating meals like this – and your pictures always looks so dang edible! It’s cold and rainy here today and there’s broccoli and cauliflower in the fridge fresh from market, and pasta in the pantry. Inspired! Thanks!


67 Lissa December 17, 2012 at 3:22 am

I am currently consuming the result of this recipe! I have been longing for a creamy white sauce pasta dish since going vegan and my wish has come true! Yay!

I did the frozen veggie easy version and it turned out beautifully. Corn pasta did the trick for me and I used tapioca powder to thicken it. I topped my bowl off with fresh tomato and capers. The only thing I would change is to add MORE garlic and probably an xtra heaping tablespoon of nutritional yeast (love it really cheesy).

Thanks for sharing!


68 Lynn July 31, 2013 at 1:08 am

Thanks for this recipe! I do not have much cooking experience, but this recipe ended up tasting great, and it really looks good. I am going to use this if I ever need to bring something to a potluck dinner.


69 Debbie B October 5, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Thanks for this recipe. It was a hit in our house this evening and I plan to make it again. I can think of many combos of veggies that would take good with this pasta and sauce. For those who wondered if it is ETL friendly, I think this recipe is good even without the pasta. The sauce on the veggies is very flavorful.


70 Vicki November 11, 2013 at 7:23 pm

This looks really great!

A quick question – my kids are picky about beans…but I’m a sneaky Mom. Do you think it would work to puree half the beans in a blender and add them to the white sauce?


71 Susan Voisin November 11, 2013 at 10:05 pm

Chickpeas don’t make the smoothest sauce, so I probably wouldn’t do that. You could use white beans instead, but I like the chickpeas better. It’s a dilemma!


72 Walt December 4, 2013 at 3:46 pm

I plan on trying this, soon.
As to the name: you could call it Pasta Voisin. Sounds catchy to me.


73 Gwen March 9, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Just wanted to point out that many people make cabbage rolls with sour cabbage. No messy steaming and peeling, just a thorough rinse to get rid of too much salt. trim the spine of the leaf if it is still too thick to roll nicely. Sour cabbage adds a nice flavour as well. Running out of time? Use a jar of sauerkraut and make a casserole.


{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: