Similar to but lighter than a vegan alfredo, pasta, chickpeas, and lots of vegetables are tossed together in a light, creamy, vegan 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’s 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.
Also, don’t miss the note on how to make this a Ridiculously Easy recipe using frozen vegetables, which, truth be told, is how I usually make it (and how it was made in the two photos above).
Pasta and Vegetables with White Sauce
- 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
- 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.
- While the pasta is cooking, steam the vegetables until just tender. Add them to the pasta.
- 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.
- 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.
Nutritional info is approximate.
YanMay 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… 🙂 thanks for this post.
VeganFaeryMay 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!
PatBMay 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?
Susan VoisinMay 7, 2012 at 7:42 pm
Yes, any non-dairy milk will do.
AllisonMay 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!
SherryJune 12, 2012 at 10:37 am
Delicious for dinner and even better the next day, cold with pickled beets.
SharonJune 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!
KarenJuly 7, 2012 at 10:27 am
Hi Susan, would you consider this E2L worthy? Looks delicious, thanks for posting as always!
Susan VoisinJuly 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.” 🙂
LainaJuly 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. 🙂 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.
BrendaOctober 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!!
BrendaOctober 16, 2012 at 4:41 pm
Oops .. put in the wrong link!! Here’s the link to the picture:
Lani Muelrath, the Plant-Based Fitness ExpertDecember 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!
LissaDecember 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!
LynnJuly 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.
Debbie BOctober 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.
VickiNovember 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?
Susan VoisinNovember 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!
WaltDecember 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.
GwenMarch 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.
LillyApril 17, 2018 at 10:47 pm
This is the best vegan dish I’ve made yet. It’s also the first recipe where I’ve used spoonfuls of nutritional yeast. Usually I just sprinkle it on, but now I’ll be using it much more liberally. I only made half the recipe but I inadvertently added the full amount of garlic and fresh basil. It came out fantastic and I highly recommend doubling the garlic and herbs. I also recommend doubling the amount of sauce since the pasta soaks it up very quickly. I’ll definitely be making this again. It was a little complicated and time consuming so I might do the frozen veggie option next time.
~MMarch 18, 2019 at 5:35 pm
Would this recipe work with canned coconut milk instead of soy milk? (Obviously and purposely upping the fat content significantly). Thanks!
Susan VoisinMarch 18, 2019 at 7:41 pm
It would taste very strongly of coconut, which I don’t think would work with the other flavors.
DebraJune 4, 2019 at 6:56 pm
Can this recipe be frozen ?