A delicious creamy pasta dish with a garlicky lemon vegan white sauce served alongside roasted asparagus. It comes together easily and is ready in under 30 minutes! Perfect for a weeknight dinner.
Creamy pasta dishes are a favorite among adults and kids alike. This easy vegan white sauce is paired with ziti and roasted asparagus for a delicious weeknight dinner the whole family will love.
Bonus: it’s nut-free and comes together easily in just 30 minutes!
Ingredients you need
Ingredient notes and substitutions
This velvety sauce is thick and creamy and full of lemon and garlic flavors. It’s also soy free, nut free, and can be made oil-free if you wish. It only takes 7 ingredients, all of which you likely already have in your pantry/fridge, and less than 10 minutes to make.
Beans ~ White beans are high in protein, fiber, potassium, folate, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, calcium and iron. [source] Cannellini beans, in particular, get super creamy when blended.
Broth ~ Use a low-sodium vegetable broth to better control the seasoning in this recipe. If you only have regular broth, taste the finished sauce first and add salt as needed to taste.
Garlic ~ Fresh garlic is best for optimal flavor. Bottled minced garlic can work in a pinch. Do not use garlic powder.
Lemon ~ Fresh squeezed lemon juice is going to give the best flavor. 100% bottled juice will work in a pinch if you must, but never use imitation lemon juice.
Pasta ~ I like medium size pasta shapes for this dish. I used ziti here, but rotini, medium shells, and penne would all be great.
To keep this recipe gluten free, be sure to choose a certified gluten free pasta, if needed.
Asparagus ~ Asparagus is incredibly high in Vitamin K and folate. It also boasts B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, potassium, zinc, iron, protein, and calcium, among others. [source]
If you don’t care for asparagus or don’t have any, this lemony vegan white sauce and pasta would also be delicious with roasted broccoli or green beans. Green peas mixed into the creamy pasta would also be great!
How to make the recipe
Spread out the asparagus in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until tender and lightly browned.
While the asparagus is roasting, cook the noodles according to package directions and start the sauce.
Heat oil (or veggie broth for an oil-free option) over medium heat in a small skillet. Add the diced onions (1) and sauté until soft and translucent (2).
Add the minced garlic (3) and sauté another 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant (4).
Place all the ingredients for the vegan white sauce, including the sautéed onions and garlic in a high speed blender and purée until smooth.
Pour the vegan white sauce over the cooked noodles and mix well.
Serve the pasta with a side of roasted asparagus. Sprinkle chopped parsley and lemon zest over the top. Squeeze extra lemon juice over everything, if desired.
Storage and freezing
Fridge: Leftovers will keep in an air-tight container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. Ideally, store the pasta, sauce, and asparagus all separately.
If the pasta and sauce are combined, the pasta will continue to soak up the sauce and you may need to add a splash of veggie broth upon reheating.
Freezer: Leftover sauce can also be frozen in an air-tight container or freezer-safe plastic bag up to 3 months. Again, you may need a splash of veggie broth upon reheating and whisk it well.
I do not recommend freezing the pasta with the sauce combined.
Pro tips and tricks
~ Salt the pasta water! Salting pasta water is an important step is seasoning the dish.
~ Spread the asparagus out into one single layer on a rimmed baking sheet to ensure they get browned. Overlapping the spears will result in steaming instead of roasting and they will come out soft and mushy.
~ Sauté the onion and garlic before adding it to blender to make the sauce. This will create a deeper, richer flavor in the sauce.
~ Drain and rinse the canned beans!
~ Use fresh squeezed lemon juice for best flavor, not bottled.
~ Save some of the pasta cooking water (about ¼ cup or so) to add to the sauce to make it even creamier.
~ If the sauce is too thick, add some of the pasta cooking water or a splash of vegetable broth to thin it out.
~ Don’t like asparagus? Try serving the pasta and vegan white sauce with a side of roasted broccoli or green beans instead. Or simply throw some frozen peas in with the pasta before draining it and mix it all with the sauce.
~ This recipe is vegan and nut free.
~ For a gluten free option, choose certified gluten free noodles.
~ For an oil-free option, use vegetable broth instead of oil for sautéing and roasting.
Typically, no. Most white sauces are made with lots of dairy, including butter and milk. This vegan version is made with white beans instead!
Unlike typical dairy white sauce, which is typically high in calories, fat and cholesterol, this vegan white sauce is healthy! Made from protein and fiber packed white beans, you can feel good about serving this dish!
Most vegan white sauces start with a base of cashews. While those recipes are delicious, they can be time consuming since you need to soak the nuts for several hours first. Some are made with non-dairy milk and cauliflower, like in this coconut milk alfredo. In this recipe, I use canned white beans instead of cashews for the same thick, creamy texture. It comes together quickly and easily and is a great alternative for those allergic to nuts.
More creamy vegan pasta recipes
- Vegan Spinach Artichoke Pasta
- Easy Hummus Pasta
- Creamy Sweet Corn Pasta
- Vegan Mushroom Pasta
- Creamy Balsamic Summer Pasta Salad
- Vegan Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! If you tried it, please use the rating system in the recipe card and leave a comment below with your feedback.
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For even more easy family recipes, be sure to check out my cookbook, The Meatless Monday Family Cookbook!
Creamy Vegan White Sauce Pasta
For the Asparagus:
- 1 bunch fresh asparagus
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- salt/pepper to taste
For the Pasta:
- 16 ounces ziti or pasta of choice (use gluten free noodles if desired)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil or 2 tablespoons vegetable broth
- ½ of a yellow onion diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 can (15 oz) cannellini beans rinsed and drained (or 1 ⅕ cups cooked white beans)
- ½ cup low-sodium vegetable broth plus extra to thin, if needed
- juice of ½ lemon or to taste
- ¾ teaspoon salt or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper optional
- fresh parsley to garnish
- zest of 1 lemon to garnish
- Preheat your oven to 425°F and bring a big pot of water to a boil.
- Trim off the woody bottoms of the asparagus. Toss the asparagus with oil, salt and pepper.
- Spread the asparagus out on a rimmed baking sheet in one even layer. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes until tender and starting to brown.
- Meanwhile, cook the ziti (or pasta of choice) according to package directions in well salted water.
- While the pasta is cooking and the asparagus is roasting, make the sauce.
- In a small skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of oil (or 2 tablespoons of vegetable broth) over medium-high heat. Sauté the diced onion for 4 to 5 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the minced garlic and sauté another 1 to 2 minutes.
- Combine the beans, onion/garlic mixture, vegetable broth, lemon juice, and salt in a high speed blender and purée until smooth. Add a little more broth (or some of the pasta water) to thin if needed.
- To serve, combine the ziti and sauce and serve the asparagus either on the side or mixed in with the noodles.
- Garnish with extra lemon zest, parsley, and an extra squeeze of fresh lemon, if desired.
Storage/Freezing Leftovers will keep in an air-tight container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. Ideally, store the pasta, sauce, and asparagus all separately. Leftover sauce can also be frozen in an air-tight container or freezer-safe plastic bag up to 3 months. I do not recommend freezing the pasta with the sauce combined.
Nutrition values are calculated using online calculators and are estimates only. Please verify using your own data.
I added broccoli to mine and added some mustard powder and nutmeg to the sauce to spice it up a little!
It’s nice and creamy.Such a good idea for a pasta sauce!
Jenn Sebestyen says
Sounds delicious! Happy to hear you loved it!
This was really really good! I try to follow recipes without altering the first time (other than always using much more garlic LOL), but we were almost out of garlic so I made the sauce exactly as written. I was afraid it would be a little bland for our taste, but it absolutely wasn’t. It’s not often I find a recipe I’m not thinking of tweaks for when we eat it the first time! We’ll be adding this to our regular rotation for sure!
Second time I made it, I had some mushrooms and a leek to use up so sautéed them and put them on top with the asparagus. I’ve never used cannellini beans before and can see a lot of versatility with this sauce!
Jenn Sebestyen says
I’m so happy you love it, Patty! Mushrooms would be an amazing addition…I’ll have to try that next time, too! Definitely a versatile sauce. Thank you so much for your lovely comment!
Made this yesterday for my Son and Wife they both thought I went to some cooking course, I’m quite impressed with the taste and result! Hahaha. Thanks for sharing such wonderful recipe!
Jenna-lea Kelland says
This was yum! We had it for dinner tonight and it was great. I’ve just recently gone dairy free so it was nice to have a creamy pasta-my favorite. I couldn’t find fresh asparagus so I fried zucchini on a griddle pan. My fussy 3 year old even ate it, and I never successfully get beans into him but he was oblivious. 😉 I just struggled to get my sauce as smooth as in your photos, but it still tasted good. Thanks for sharing.
Jenn S. says
I’m so glad you and your family loved it, Jenna-lea! What kind of blender do you have? That could make the difference between a somewhat smooth sauce and a silky smooth sauce. If you don’t have a high-speed blender, add a bit more liquid and blend longer. That should do it!
Jenna-lea Kelland says
Thanks I’ll try that. I don’t have a high speed blender, will just go for longer next time. Thanks.
Jenn S. says
This was great! I made it tonight and added some frozen peas mixed in at the very end.
Jenn S. says
LOVE the idea of adding green peas! Thanks, Kristen. So happy to hear you loved it!
Judy Stone says
Yum! Friday night dinner after the gym–this is fabulous. And since I just worked out I don’t mind a bit having a second serving! Thanks Jenn!
Jenn S. says
Oh, that’s great to hear, Judy! Thank you! So glad you enjoyed it.
The health benefits of asparagus are world known. I too particularly like to eat stalks. Wonderful recipe!
Jenn S. says
Thanks, Seren! Glad to hear you enjoy the stalks too!