Everybody loves pasta. Just like gravity and taxes, it’s one of life’s true facts. And, sure, one of the first things that probably comes to mind is a hearty bowlful topped with mounds of cheese and meatballs. But with the right ingredients, pasta dishes can actually be full of healthy vegetables and plant-based protein.
Whether you’re gluten-free, vegan, or trying out the Mediterranean diet, pasta is the fastest, easiest way to get a meal on the table everyone will love. Plus, you can go plant-based without giving up any of your favorite dishes. These nine vegan recipes are seriously good, quick to cook, packed with protein, and make meatless Mondays a walk in the park.
Who needs beef when you have this comforting, meat-free Bolognese? After minimal vegetable chopping, this sauce will simmer on the stove and make your whole kitchen smell like an Italian wonderland. The mushrooms create an umami moment, while walnuts give the sauce its hearty texture.
If someone said, “I don’t like lasagna,” I would tell that person to leave my life and never come back. I’ve seriously considered taking the Garfield route and living the lasagna-only life. With this dairy-free, plant-based version of the classic dish, I probably could.
A lentil marinara sauce and tofu-cashew ricotta gives you all the protein you need in one serving. Plus, this recipe teaches you how to make vegan ricotta and mozzarella. That said, if you’re in a hurry, you can always swap in store-bought, plant-based cheeses. Just layer everything in a pan, stick it in the oven, and have the loveliest of meals in less than an hour.
Did you know you can make vegan pancetta? Well, you can, and it’s amazing. This recipe uses tempeh, garlic, maple syrup, liquid smoke (optional, we say), and other spices for the pancetta, then calls for cashew cream to mimic that rich vodka sauce flavor. Pair with penne so all the little pasta ridges can absorb the flavorful sauce.
Whether you prefer tempeh or chickpeas, this recipe tells you how to make meatless meatballs from your protein of choice. Surprisingly, these vegan versions come together almost exactly like their meaty counterparts, and they look just like the real thing atop a plate of spaghetti. Plus, there’s also a recipe for simple vegan Parmesan—a mixture of ground-up cashews, nutritional yeast, and garlic powder. If you can have dairy, feel free to add some traditional cheese to the dish for extra flavor, then pair with whole-grain spaghetti for a healthy, filling meal.
Sometimes you just want boxed macaroni and cheese. Sadly, that unnaturally orange packet of powder just isn’t good for you. But don’t worry, there’s a healthy version! This plant-based mac and cheese powder is made from all-natural ingredients and spices. Mix it up in seconds then add a dairy-free milk and pasta of your choice. It won’t be blindingly orange, but it will be delicious.
Kale is a miracle food, but it usually tastes more “healthy” than “OMG, I want some more.” This recipe has all the nutrition of kale but tastes like pesto. Even without the Parmesan, this sauce is a winner. Just mix together kale, olive oil, basil, garlic, lemon, pumpkin seeds, and spices in the food processor and you’ve got a delightful sauce in less than five minutes. If you don’t have pumpkin seeds, you can sub pine nuts or cashews.
Creamy and vegan usually don’t go together. But this ingenious recipe gives you all the creamy goodness of Alfredo sauce with none of the dairy. The cashews, lemon juice, and nutritional yeast (a must for nearly all things vegan and cheesy) give the pasta its Parmesan-like flavor, while the pureéd cauliflower makes the sauce a perfect consistency.
For a more classic homemade mac and cheese experience, try this butternut squash version. The squash gives the dish a natural cheddar color and creates a smooth, creamy texture. If you don’t have nutritional yeast on hand, no problem. This recipe creates the cheesy flavor from a combination of cashews, spices, and Dijon mustard. You’ll forget you’re getting a full serving of vegetables when you bite into this plant-based comfort food classic.
If you love doing the dishes, this is not the recipe for you. This mushroom stroganoff uses only one pot, minimal ingredients, and cooks up in 20 minutes. It’s a plant-based miracle. After chopping up some onions and mushrooms, throw everything in a pot and boil. Soon enough, you’ll have a comforting bowl of pasta that doesn’t need a hint of meat to taste amazing.