Creamy Vegan Pasta Marinara

This creamy vegan pasta marinara has a superb sauce of garlic, shallots, capers, and a bit of cashew cream. An elegant and easy vegan dinner idea!

Creamy Vegan Pasta Marinara | A Couple Cooks

One night after a long night at work, Alex whipped us up an impromptu vegan spaghetti dinner. Rummaging around, he found some canned tomato puree and spaghetti noodles in the cupboard, and a few shallots in the pantry. Digging in the refrigerator, he unearthed some jarred capers and some leftover cashew cream. The creamy vegan pasta marinara that resulted was so good I kept asking him, how exactly did you do that? Of course his response was, I have no idea. He was cooking by intuition. After writing a food blog for years and then writing a cookbook, taking notes while cooking is second nature for us. But this one caught us on sneak attack. Keep reading for the vegan pasta marinara recipe and the story behind the recipe.

Related: Romantic Dinner Ideas

The story behind this vegan pasta marinara

This vegan pasta marinara has a supremely savory sauce, where garlic, shallots, and capers all work together with the cashew cream to make as much umami as possible in a vegan pasta recipe. It’s so.darn.good. After remaking what he thought he did that fated evening several times, Alex was able to recreate the delicious vegan pasta he had made on a whim. And we knew we’d be making this one for years later, so this time we made sure to write it down!

We shot the photographs together, and after editing, Alex presented the final photos to me for this post. I couldn’t wait to see the photos of the creamy, comforting vegan pasta marinara so I could remember eating it all over again. Except when we looked at them together, there was something not quite right. The image of the pasta was flat and lifeless. Something was not quite evoking the comforting, creamy umami experience that was the creamy vegan pasta marinara. Both of us looked at it and said, Oh.

Creamy Vegan Pasta Marinara | A Couple Cooks

A new perspective

Alex decided to go back to the drawing board with the same photo. He brought it up in Photoshop and this time put a new filter on it. The new filter made the colors shine and brought in a warmth that was missing from the original image. Then, instead of showing the entire plate of pasta, he cropped in so you could see the gooey details of the sauce and the contrasting tangles of the noodles. This time, when I looked at it, the photo said creamy vegan pasta marinara.

I tell this story because it’s like life, in a way. How many times do we look at an aspect of our lives and say Oh. It’s not quite what I was expecting. There’s something that’s not quite right. And it’s disheartening. But what if, like Alex, we could apply a new filter to our lives? What if we had a new filter that enhanced the color and brightness? And what if we could crop in to where we could clearly see the detail (and a little bit of the mess!) and realize that what’s there is truly beautiful? A simple change of perspective can cultivate a heart of gratitude, if we let it.

And now, to go eat all the creamy vegan pasta marinara. (PS it’s also a fabulous pizza sauce.)

Looking for vegan recipes?

This is a vegan pasta recipe, which stands out from many of our Italian recipes (which typically contain cheese!). Vegan recipes are becoming part of our everyday, though we typically eat vegetarian. Here are a few of our recent vegan recipes:

Looking for healthy dinner ideas? 

A top request we get is inquires about healthy dinner ideas. A few of our top healthy dinner ideas:

Did you make this recipe?

If you make this creamy vegan pasta marinara, we’d love to hear how they turned out. Leave a comment below or share a picture on Instagram and mention @acouplecooks.

This recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free. For gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta.

Related: Try using our Homemade Vegetable Broth for this recipe!

Creamy Vegan Pasta Marinara | A Couple Cooks

Creamy Vegan Pasta Marinara

1 Star (3 votes, average: 5.00 out of 1)

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian


This creamy vegan pasta marinara has a superb sauce of garlic, shallots, capers, and a bit of cashew cream. An elegant and easy vegan dinner idea!


For the cashew cream

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 2/3 cup vegetable broth or water
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the pasta

  • 2 large shallots
  • 5 medium garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 28-ounce can tomato puree
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup cashew cream (from above)
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1 pound bucatini pasta
  • Basil leaves, for garnish


  1. For the cashew cream, place the cashews in a bowl and cover them with water. Soak them while making the recipe, at least 30 minutes if you have a high speed blender and 1 hour for a standard blender, and more if time. (For preparation in advance, you can soak the cashews overnight, which is even better.) Drain the cashews. Then add the cashews, broth or water, and salt to a blender, then blend on high for 1 minute. Stop and scrape, then add additional liquid if necessary to come to a creamy consistency. Blend for several minutes until creamy and smooth. (Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for several months.)
  2. For the pasta, thinly slice the shallots. Mince the garlic. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the shallot, garlic, and oregano and gently sauté, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour in the tomato puree, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to a bubble, then reduce the heat and maintain a low simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cashew cream and capers, and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  3. Boil the pasta in plenty of salted water according to the package instructions. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, slowly transfer the hot pasta to the tomato sauce, tossing to coat. Serve hot, garnished with torn or sliced basil leaves, a drizzle of olive oil (required: this is an important component for achieving the creamy, rich flavor), and an additional pinch salt (if necessary).


As a fun optional topping, sprinkle with Vegan Parmesan Cheese!

Keywords: vegan pasta marinara, vegan marinara, vegan pasta, vegan marinara pasta


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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.


  • Reply
    September 11, 2017 at 6:43 am

    Yum! This looks so delicious and definitely comforting! Some nights you just cannot beat pasta… and sometimes the most spontaneous recipes turn out to be the best!

    Sochal – The Healthy Social Network

  • Reply
    Kelsey @ Appeasing a Food Geek
    September 13, 2017 at 6:29 am

    This pasta is literally making me drool. I can never get enough of this type of comforting food. Also, loving the photo editing metaphor! xoxo

  • Reply
    Sabrina B
    September 18, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    some of the best things I’ve ever made have come from impromptu planning, but also some of the worst! So, am happy you did the testing already, thank you! The photos look wonderful too, so thank you for the editing!

  • Reply
    September 21, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    I love the beautiful words and message behind this already incredible-sounding and -looking dish. It’s something to live by (both the words, and this perfect pasta!)

  • Reply
    Emily S
    October 4, 2017 at 11:45 am

    I made the pasta sauce and served it with baked spaghetti squash and vegan lentil mushroom meatballs. It was delicious! I was surprised how creamy and how much flavor the sauce had. I will definitely make this again.

    • Reply
      October 5, 2017 at 8:09 pm

      This sounds like a fantastic idea! We’ll need to try this :) So glad you enjoyed it!

  • Reply
    Eva K.
    February 13, 2018 at 10:08 pm

    It’s now one of my favorite recipes! Quick, simple, and absolutely delicious.
    The only thing that I would change is to undercook pasta and then add it to the sauce with a 1/2 cup of pasta water. This way it turns out perfectly al-dente and with a very rich taste.

    • Reply
      March 14, 2018 at 1:48 pm

      Ahhh yes, cooking until just before it’s done is the perfect trick — this sounds amazing! Thanks for the idea.

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