Vegan Lemon Florentine Pasta featuring fresh spinach, fresh basil, garlic, white wine and cashew lemon milk to create a delicious and creamy sauce that coats pasta beautifully! This recipe is super healthy, filling and completely oil-free!
VEGAN LEMON FLORENTINE PASTA
I’m excited to share a recipe today with you all that is so perfect for summer, while keeping things healthy and fresh, but a filling weeknight dinner. This pasta is inspired by Italian cuisine. Florentine dishes mean that spinach is a main ingredient to the dish. Many Florentine dishes are chicken served on a bed of spinach or pasta dishes. You may have heard of chicken Florentine before. Well, this is my vegan-inspired take on a Florentine pasta.
I wanted it to be fresh and vibrant, so lemon is always a welcome choice. Fresh spinach, fresh basil, with lots of garlic round out the flavors. I created a cashew lemon milk sauce that thickens and gets super creamy to coat the pasta in a magical way.
Y’all know how much I love pasta. We eat it weekly. They are some of my most popular recipes. I’ve worked with Explore Cuisine before and love how they offer several gluten-free pasta varieties. They have different bean pastas like lentils, black bean and even chickpea or brown rice pastas. Today, I’m sharing my recipe using their chickpea fusilli pasta. They asked me to create an Italian-inspired pasta dish and I jumped at the chance.
I eat wheat pasta regularly and absolutely love it. Now, fyi, chickpea pasta does not taste like wheat. So, if you are used to wheat, it is a bit different, but it held onto this delicious sauce beautifully, while keeping its shape, which I really enjoyed. Sometimes gluten-free pastas completely fall apart or get mushy. This is what I like about Explore Cuisine pastas, they never get mushy or fall apart. If you cook them for the recommended time on the box, you are good to go!
Great things about the Explore Cuisine brand:
- healthy gluten-free options
- packed high in protein and fiber
- Many varieties of pasta, including beans, lentils and chickpeas
- organic, non-GMO and vegan
- healthy, fresh and cook fast
- different shapes and styles to suit your individual tastes
HOW TO MAKE VEGAN LEMON FLORENTINE PASTA
First, you will need to gather these 8 ingredients:
- fusilli pasta
- fresh garlic
- dry white wine (I used a Pinot Grigio)
- fresh basil
- fresh lemon juice
Begin boiling a large pot of salted water and add the pasta once boiling.
While waiting on the pasta water, make the lemon cashew milk. This will be the main part of the sauce, so you want to make it exactly as written. It will be very watery after blending, but cooking it will cause it to really thicken up and become wonderfully creamy. Store-bought cashew milk will not work here or produce the same result. Store-bought is full of fillers and little cashews, so trying it, you will end up with a bland, gross watery sauce, so you must use the cashew recipe here for it to work.
If you do not own a Vitamix or an equally powerful blender, you must soak the cashews overnight so they become really soft.
To a large, deep pan, add the onion and 1/4 cup water over medium heat. Cook 5-8 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and 2 more tablespoons of water as needed to keep the garlic cooking and not burn. Cook for just about a minute.
Add the wine and cook for about 3 minutes until it has reduced by about half.
Add the cashew lemon milk and spinach and reduce to medium heat. Stir continuously until the spinach has wilted and cooked down and the sauce has thickened into a nice, thick and creamy sauce. This will take about 5 minutes. Top with the fresh basil and Vegan Lemon Parmesan Cheese!
CAN THIS BE MADE NUT-FREE?
If you are allergic to cashews, you can try subbing with raw sunflower seeds. I have not tested this personally, so I’m not sure of how the flavor will taste, but I think with the strong lemon notes, it might be okay. Let me know if you try the sunflower version.
OTHER VEGAN PASTA DISHES TO TRY
- Best Vegan Garlic Alfredo
- Vegan Pimento Cream Sauce
- Vegan Stuffed Ricotta Shells With Spinach
- Vegan Mac ‘N’ Cheese
Vegan Lemon Florentine Pasta
- 8 oz box Explore Cuisine pasta (I used their chickpea fusilli, use whatever you like or if you can't do chickpeas)
CASHEW LEMON MILK
- 3/4 cup (105g) raw, unsalted cashews + 1 1/2 cups (360g) water (see directions)
- 3 tablespoons (45g) fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt + 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 packed cup (70g) finely diced white or yellow onion
- 5 large cloves garlic, minced (15g)
- 3/4 cup (180g) dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
- 5 oz (153g) package fresh spinach, roughly chopped
- 1/4 packed cup (10g) chiffonade basil
- Store-bought cashew milk will not work here or produce the same result. Store-bought is full of fillers and little cashews, so trying it, you will end up with a bland, gross watery sauce, so you must use the cashew recipe here for it to work.
- If you do not own a Vitamix or an equally powerful blender, you must soak the cashews overnight in a bowl covered with water so they become really soft. Drain and rinse them and proceed. Otherwise, you will end up with a gritty sauce. Using the soaked cashews version, I suggest blending the sauce in a food processor, as opposed to a standard non-powerful blender, as I find sauces get smoother and creamier this way (if not using a Vitamix blender).
- Begin boiling a large pot of salted water and add the pasta once boiling. Cook according to the package.
- While waiting on the pasta water, make the lemon cashew milk. Add the cashews, 1 1/2 cups water, lemon juice, salt and pepper to the blender or if using the soaked cashews, add all to a food processor. Blend until 100% smooth and no bits of nuts remain. It should be very watery, but smooth. Set aside. It will be very watery after blending, but cooking it will cause it to really thicken up and become wonderfully creamy.
- To a large, deep pan, add 1/4 cup water over medium heat. Once simmering, add the onion and cook 5-8 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and 2 more tablespoons of water as needed to keep the garlic cooking and not burn. Cook for just about a minute.
- Add the wine and cook for about 3 minutes until it has reduced by about half.
- Add the cashew lemon milk and spinach and reduce to medium heat. Stir continuously until the spinach has wilted and cooked down and the sauce has thickened into a nice, thickened creamy sauce. This will take about 5 minutes. Cook longer if needed for it to thicken. It should be the consistency of an alfredo, no longer watery, but not overly thick. Remove from the heat. Taste and add more salt, if desired.
- Serve desired amounts of sauce over pasta. To chiffonade basil, stack several large leaves of basil on top of each other. Roll them up into a tight roll. Use a very sharp knife to slice down the roll into thin strips. Sprinkle this basil all over the finished dish just before serving. Adding some freshly ground black pepper is nice too. For additional flavor and lemon boost, add my Lemon Parmesan Cheese!