This zesty vegan cilantro cream pasta with roasted paprika tomatoes puts a fresh spin on a classic creamy pasta dish. Warm pasta is tossed in a zesty cilantro cream sauce and topped with roasted paprika tomatoes. The creamy sauce is balanced and brightened by the lime juice, fresh cilantro, zesty garlic, and peppery arugula. The roasted tomatoes add a subtle smoky flavor and just a hint of sweetness. The combination comforts like an alfredo pasta yet the range of flavors is vibrant of fresh like a vegetable-laden spring or summer pasta.
This post is sponsored by Silk. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.
This dreamy pasta was a good reminder that three really is a charm. After two failed sauces (one a funky shade of yellow-green and another gloopy-gloppy), the third variation turned out to be exactly what I had been hoping for all along.
The third sauce has a magical smoothness and effortless depth of flavor. It's velvety and perfectly coats the pasta, being neither too thick/clingy nor too thin. It's the sweet spot of creamy pasta sauce, and it's a bit of a dream come true.
To make this flavorful pasta, you'll start by roasting up a tray of cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes that have been tossed in a bit of olive oil, smoked paprika, and sea salt.
While the tomatoes are roasting, you'll start cooking the pasta. Once the pasta is cooked, toss it with a few cups of chopped baby arugula and let it rest until the sauce is ready.
To make that zesty, magical sauce, you'll boil a few cups of cauliflower florets. When the florets are fork-tender, add them to a blender along with a cup of Unsweetened Silk Almondmilk, garlic, scallions, nutritional yeast, olive oil, fresh lime juice, sea salt, chili powder, ground cumin, and a dash of cayenne pepper. Blend until luxuriously creamy and smooth.
Pour the sauce into a large pan and heat for a few minutes or until hot and bubbly. Stir in the finely chopped cilantro. Then, fold in the heaps of warm pasta and chopped arugula, and toss to coat the pasta in the sauce.
Divide the pasta between bowls and top with a generous serving of the roasted tomatoes.
I love the unexpected pops of flavor in this dish. The creamy sauce is balanced and brightened by the lime juice, fresh cilantro, zesty garlic, and peppery arugula. The roasted tomatoes add a subtle smoky flavor and just a hint of sweetness. The combination comforts like an alfredo pasta yet the range of flavors is vibrant of fresh like a vegetable-laden spring or summer pasta.
Zesty Vegan Cilantro Cream Pasta with Roasted Paprika Tomatoes
Roasted Paprika Tomatoes
- 3 cups grape or cherry tomatoes (or a mix of both), halved
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Sea salt, to taste
- 12 ounces gluten-free rigatoni, penne, or fusilli pasta
- 2 cups baby arugula, chopped
Zesty Cilantro Cream Sauce
- 2 ½ cups small cauliflower florets
- 1 cup Unsweetened Silk Original Almondmilk
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled, to taste
- 2 scallions (green onions), ends trimmed so that only the white and light green parts remain
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- Dash of cayenne pepper (optional, for a kick of heat)
- ½ cup cilantro leaves, very finely chopped
For the Roasted Paprika Tomatoes
- Preheat oven to 400F. Line a large rimmed baking tray with parchment paper.
- Add the halved cherry tomatoes to the pan, drizzle with the olive oil, and sprinkle with the smoked paprika and sea salt. Toss to coat and spread out into an even layer across the pan. Roast the tomatoes for 18 to 22 minutes or until they're tender, blistered, and just beginning to turn golden-brown on the edges. Remove from oven and let cool on pan.
For the Pasta
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water, and transfer the cooked pasta to a large bowl. Add the chopped arugula, toss, and set aside.
For the Zesty Cilantro Cream Sauce
- Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the cauliflower florets to the pot and boil for 7 minutes or until very fork-tender. Strain off the water.
- Add the boiled cauliflower florets, almond milk, garlic, scallions, nutritional yeast, olive oil, lime juice, sea salt, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper (if using) to a high-speed blender. Blend on high for 1 to 2 minutes or until completely smooth and creamy.
- Pour the sauce into a large saute pan. Turn heat on medium and stir constantly for 3 to 5 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Stir in the chopped cilantro. Then, add the pasta and arugula to the pan and toss to coat. Heat for 2 minutes or until the sauce thickens and clings to the pasta. If needed, add pasta water, ¼ cup at a time, to thin the sauce. Remove from heat.
- Scoop the pasta into pasta bowls and top with the roasted cherry tomatoes.
Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine says
Wow, an amazing dish for my favorite spice!! That sounds incredible!
Thanks, Rebecca! I hope you're doing well!
This pasta is absolutely gorgeous!! I love everything about this sauce! Can't wait to try soon :)
Thanks so much, Liz! That sauce was a pain to perfect but so worth the extra effort -- hope you enjoy it! :)
Sarah | Well and Full says
I LOVE that you roasted the tomatoes with smoked paprika. Everything is better with that smoky flavor ;)
Could not agree more, Sarah! Smoked paprika is my favorite spice for that exact reason -- I sprinkle that stuff on everything. Hope you're doing well! :)
Celeste Jackson says
Great idea to roast the tomatoes with a touch of smoked paprika! The sauce looks so creamy...I never would have imagined it possible to create this without using cream and cheese. Nice job!
This is really good!! Was skeptical at first, but really suprised. This is a recipe you can easily play with. :)
Sara-Louise Walker says
Cooked this for dinner tonight, it was absolutely yummy!
Does the nutritional yeast serve a specific purpose in your recipe? I hate to dissect something you worked so hard to perfect, but I have an allergy. I wonder if it would work as well without it.
Hi, Roni! Yes, the nutritional yeast adds a slight cheesiness, tang, and depth of flavor to the sauce. It's just not quite the same without it, but you could certainly try omitting. Just keep in mind the flavor of the sauce will be flatter (for lack of a better word).