Learn how to make Vegan Chili Pasta with Veggies! This vegan gluten-free Creamy Chili Sauce with Zucchini, Spinach and Pasta will have your taste buds dancing! It is incredibly creamy and rich, but oil-free! Just whole food ingredients. So much flavor from Italian dried herbs and chili powder and tomato sauce.
VEGAN CHILI PASTA
If there was ever a throw-together meal that is almost a 1 pot vegan recipe that turned out amazing, this is it!! I’m sharing another sauce and pasta dish today. Sauces are one of my favorite things to create, as if it wasn’t obvious by now. My collection is huge. Well, this is so good, creamy, amazing, filling, “restaurant-worthy”, as my hubby said.
I love vegan comfort food that fills your craving, but is also healthy, plant-based and made with good for you ingredients. There is nothing processed like store-bought fake meats or cheeses in my recipes, just whole foods!
This recipe is gluten-free and soy-free and oil-free!
This vegan chili pasta is made with the most delicious Creamy Chili Sauce that has the flavors both a chili and Italian pasta. A surprising combo that works amazing. Served with delicious healthy veggies like zucchini and spinach. With the flavors I used here, it will remind you of a vegan chili mac!
(Full amounts on recipe card below.)
- Pasta: Use wheat or gluten-free if needed.
- Low-sodium vegetable broth: I love the Trader Joe’s brand, Pacific and Imagine brands as well. All are great.
- Chili powder: Store-bought or my homemade chili powder is amazing!
- Italian seasoning: Store-bought or use my homemade Italian seasoning that is way better than store-bought.
- Tomato sauce: Also called passata.
- Homemade cashew milk: This is what makes the sauce so creamy. See below how to make. This cannot be subbed with store-bought cashew milk or other milks, unless it’s a very very thick/creamy one. Otherwise, your sauce will turn out very watery and bland. Homemade cashew milk thickens up incredibly while cooking.
- Liquid smoke: Adds a lovely compliment to the chili powder and extra dose of flavor.
HOW TO MAKE VEGAN CHILI PASTA
Step 1: Prepare the pasta according to the package directions. Meanwhile, start the sauce.
Step 2: Cook the onion in broth about 5 minutes, add the zucchini, cover and cook until mostly tender.
Step 3: Remove the zucchini from the pan and add the homemade cashew milk and remaining ingredients (except the pasta). Add the spinach in batches, cooking until it cooks down and the sauce thickens into a creamy consistency.
Step 4: Add the cooked pasta, stir well, taste and add any more salt/spices if desired.
HOW TO MAKE DAIRY-FREE SAUCE CREAMY
This creamy vegan sauce is both dairy-free and oil-free and made with healthy whole food plant-based ingredients. But to make it creamy like a dairy sauce, I used homemade cashew milk, my favorite milk in cooking, which is the secret to an incredibly creamy vegan pasta sauce. I love the richness and creaminess it provides. It also has a very subtle sweetness to it, which just makes everything taste better.
I love proving you don’t need animal products to make a delicious dish. Vegan substitutes are so easy. Instead of dairy cow milk, I love to use cashew milk, coconut milk and even almond milk. My favorite is cashew milk though, homemade, because it is the creamiest.
MORE VEGAN PASTA RECIPES
- Easy Vegan 20 Minute Alfredo
- Vegan Lemon Florentine Pasta
- Pimento Cream Sauce and Fusilli
- Easy Vegan Meatballs and Spaghetti
- Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
NOTE: A couple of readers have stated that their sauce has turned out watery. Please read the recipe carefully. Make sure to measure accurately, which is why I give weight in grams. I make this weekly and it always, always turns out creamy. I have noted very clearly that I used my homemade cashew milk for the recipe. As you can see in the photos, that it is very creamy and not watery at all. This is because of the homemade cashew milk. If you do NOT use the homemade cashew milk, yours will NOT turn out creamy. Store-bought cashew milk is loaded with fillers, not actual cashews like homemade, therefore it will NOT THICKEN the same as mine. If you absolutely cannot do the homemade cashew milk, then use full-fat coconut milk.
Vegan Chili Pasta with Veggies
- 2 cups dry elbow pasta (I used GF brown rice pasta. You can use spiral or other short pasta, but wouldn't recommend long noodles)
- 1 cup (240g) low-sodium veggie broth (I like the Pacific brand)
- 1 loosely filled cup (130g) finely chopped onion
- 2 small (365g) zucchini, sliced into half moons 1/4 inch thick
- 1 cup (240g) homemade cashew milk (SEE NOTE below. DO NOT sub with store-bought cashew, it will NOT thicken like my version and will RUIN the dish)
- 1 cup (240g) tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian spice blend (with no salt or red pepper added)
- 2-3 teaspoons chili powder (I use my homemade blend)
- 4 large handfuls (100g) fresh spinach
- 3/4 teaspoon salt (notice in directions you are adding salt at different times)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
- I use this scale.
- I only recommend making this with my homemade cashew milk. DO NOT USE store-bought, see note above recipe card why it doesn't work. I make my own cashew milk by adding 1/2 cup raw cashews to 1 1/2 cups filtered water and blend in a Vitamix until completely smooth. That's it, NO need to drain. You will ONLY be using 1 cup for the recipe. Store extra in fridge and I use it for baking, smoothies, oatmeal, etc. Cashew milk is absolutely going to give the BEST creamy results, so do not sub.
- Regarding the chili powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons will give it a very mild level of heat and chili flavor, whereas 3 teaspoons will give it a noticeable level of heat, I love the full 3 teaspoons but it may be too much for sensitive people and for kids. My daughter thought it was a tad too spicy, so if you are unsure, start with 1 1/2 teaspoons and you can always add more at the end after tasting.
- Make sure your veggies are chopped/prepared at the beginning, as the sauce comes together pretty quickly.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil for your pasta. Adding a lid will make it boil faster. Make sure to salt the water well so the pasta is well seasoned.
- Add the onion and broth to a large sauce pan over medium heat. Once it begins to simmer, cook 5 mins and then add the zucchini and just 1/4 teaspoon of salt at this time. Stir well and cover. Lower the heat to medium-low. It's important to cover the zucchini so it cooks through well.
- Cook about 8 minutes until the zucchini is tender (no longer crunchy), but not mushy. Check a couple of times to stir it and make sure there is enough broth to keep the zucchini cooking. Add a bit more only if needed. You basically want most of the liquid gone though before the next step.
- Once the zucchini is tender, remove the pan from the heat and add the 1 cup cashew milk (or coconut milk), tomato sauce, Italian spices, chili powder (start out with 2 teaspoons if sensitive-I used the full 3), nutritional yeast, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper and liquid smoke (if using). Stir well.
- Return back to the heat over medium heat and add the spinach. The spinach will look like a ton but will decrease significantly. Cook and stir the spinach continuously until it cooks down and the sauce thickens just a bit. You don't want to overcook the sauce, you want it fairly creamy/saucy but it should be creamy thick, not watery.
- Taste the sauce and add more salt or chili powder if desired for more spicy. The salt amount can vary depending on the tomato sauce used and how well you salted your pasta. I used the full 1 tablespoon chili powder and loved the perfect kick of heat and chili flavor. Remove from heat.
- The pasta should be done. Drain and scoop in desired amount of pasta into the sauce, leaving plenty of sauce to enjoy. Devour! How much you end up with will depend on how much pasta you add, but this makes a good amount of sauce.
- CASHEW MILK: I only recommend making this with my homemade cashew milk. DO NOT USE store-bought, see note above recipe card why it doesn't work. I make my own cashew milk by adding 1/2 cup raw cashews to 1 1/2 cups filtered water and blend in a Vitamix until completely smooth. That's it, NO need to drain. You will ONLY be using 1 cup for the recipe. Store extra in fridge and I use it for baking, smoothies, oatmeal, etc. Cashew milk is absolutely going to give the BEST creamy results, so do not sub. If you are allergic to nuts, try subbing with FULL-FAT coconut milk (well shaken/blended first).
- CHILI POWDER: 1/2 tablespoon will give it a very mild level of heat and chili flavor, whereas 1 tablespoon will give it a noticeable level of heat, which both my hubby and I thought was perfect. But it may be too much for sensitive people and for kids. My daughter thought it was a tad too spicy, so if you are unsure, start with 1/2 tablespoon.
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