This creamy vegan garlic mushroom pasta comes together in a speedy 30 minutes using simple techniques and just a brief list of ingredients that you're likely to already have on hand. It's a dream for any and all lovers of creamy pasta, garlic, and mushrooms. It makes the perfect weeknight meal for a family but something about it also feels special, almost fancy. Thus, in my book, it's also ideal for date nights and weekend dinner parties with friends.
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. (As they say, your pasta water should be as salty as the sea.)
Add the boiled cauliflower florets, 1 cup of the plant-based milk, cashews, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, and black pepper to a high-speed blender (do not use a food processor).
Blend on high for 2 minutes or until completely smooth and creamy. Set within reach of the stove.
Heat a large pan over high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the mushrooms, reduce heat to medium-high, and cook for 4 minutes, or until tender, nudging them around the pan as needed to prevent burning. It will initially seem like the mushrooms might burn but this is about the point when they will release their liquid. Continue cooking until there is just the tiniest amount of mushroom liquid remaining in the pan and the mushrooms have a deep golden-brown glisten to them.
Then, reduce heat to medium-low and add the garlic and olive oil. Continue to cook for another 2 minutes, or until the garlic mellows and softens, stirring frequently.
Stir in the cauliflower sauce, increase the heat to medium, and simmer for 1 minute, or until hot and bubbly.
Turn off the heat, add the pasta to the pan, and toss to coat. If a slightly thinner sauce is desired, add more plant-based milk, one small splash at a time, to thin (I usually add another 1/4 to 1/2 cup). (Note: If you add more milk, you'll need to increase the seasoning to accommodate.)
*For a rich and super creamy pasta (as pictured), use 12 ounces of pasta. For a slightly less saucy pasta, use up to 16 ounces (1 pound).
**If you're not using a high-speed blender (e.g., Vitamix or Blendtec), soak the cashews for at least 2 hours or boil for 10 minutes to soften. Also, keep in mind that, in addition to enhancing the richness of the sauce, raw cashews do impart a subtle sweetness to it as well. Thus, you'll need to balance this by adding a touch more salt than you might typically be accustomed to in other sauces. If a thinner, more naturally savory sauce is preferred, you can try omitting the cashews and adjusting the seasoning.
***Even if you're not typically a fan of parsley (my hand is raised), I strongly recommend that you add at least a little bit. It brightens the dish and adds a pop of freshness that balances and softens the savoriness of the cream sauce and mushrooms. If you're especially sensitive to its freshness, add the parsley to the sauce as it simmers to soften its grassy bite.