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Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta

pasta, sun dried tomatoes, kale and pan seared tofu with dairy free cashew cream sauce

This Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta is the perfect weeknight dinner. It’s quick, easy and so cozy. I toss pasta, pan-seared tofu, sun-dried-tomatoes, and Tuscan kale with a rich (but completely dairy-free) Dijon Cream Sauce and the result is a luxuriously creamy pasta that is truly bursting with flavor!

pasta, sun dried tomatoes, kale and pan seared tofu with dairy free cashew cream sauce

Key Ingredients for Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta

  • Short pasta of choice. I like the twisty kind that hold lots of sauce like this one and this one.
  • Oil-Packed Sun-Dried Tomatoes. You can find sun-dried tomatoes in a bag or the oil-packed variety which come in a jar. You’ll want to opt for the jarred variety since we’ll be using some of the oil from the jar to cook the tofu. It’s olive oil infused with tomatoes, herbs and spices so it’s particularly delicious…and a great way to add extra flavor!
  • Dijon Mustard. This dish doesn’t taste like mustard but the Dijon is a key player because it adds umami and a lovely depth of the flavor to the cream sauce. It also provides a touch of acidity which mimics the slight tang that creamy, cheesy sauces often have.
  • Nutritional yeast. This adds umami and additional depth. It’s used twice in this recipe. Once in the sauce and again when the tofu is done cooking. I toss the pan-seared tofu with a little bit of nutritional yeast and it adds so much tasty richness!
  • Kale. I chose kale for this recipe because it’s a beautiful hearty green that holds up well in this sauce. Spinach is also great but I find the kale holds its own a little better if I’m reheating leftovers for lunch the next day. Feel free to use whatever left green you like or swap the kale for broccoli, peas or even sautéed mushrooms.
pasta, sun dried tomatoes, kale and pan seared tofu with dairy free cashew cream sauce

Tips for Making Dairy-Free Cream Sauces

Use raw, unsalted cashews. Avoid using roasted or salted cashews when making this sauce. The roasting process makes the nuts drier and crunchier, which is not what we want for a smooth and creamy sauce. Plus toasting nuts in the oven brings out their nutty flavor…which is delicious, but not what we want here. Raw and unsalted is the way to go!

In sauces like these, we just want a neutral creamy base to replace dairy cream.

I like to soak the cashews overnight to speed things up in the kitchen but since I usually forget to do that, I typically end up covering the cashews with boiling water and letting them sit for about 15 minutes while I prepare the other ingredients.

Both methods are great for hydrating and softening the nuts so that they blend into a smooth and creamy sauce.

Then I add seasonings (in this case Dijon mustard for umami and depth of flavor and a little tanginess too) and some all-purpose seasoning which has onion, garlic and dried herbs.

I recommend blending for slightly longer than you may think you need to. It’s not just about breaking down the contents in the blender. You’ll want to let it go past that point and let it up/ emulsify for a good 30-40 seconds to make sure you get a silky-smooth sauce.

How to Cook Chicken-Like Tofu

Listen, I’m not going to say this tofu tastes like chicken, because it doesn’t but it is really flavorful and delicious – and actually, a non-vegan friend of mine recently told me the tofu was her favorite part of the dish!

tofu cubes

Different as it may be to chicken, this tofu is seared with the same spices that are commonly used to season chicken, so it’s remarkably similar in a lot of ways.

The secret to nailing the flavor is to use the oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes to cook the tofu. It’s well seasoned and adds so much flavor. Then I sprinkle paprika, dried Italian herbs and a generous amount of salt-free all-purpose seasoning like Kirkland’s Organic No-Salt Seasoning or Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute.

pan seared tofu

Another helpful tip is not to disturb the tofu once it’s in the pan. I avoid flipping for the first 1-2 minutes to encourage browning. This adds lots of nice flavor too, and there’s something about the sear with the paprika and herbs and spices that gives this tofu a chicken-like quality. You’ll see what I mean when you try it!

The final step is to toss the seared tofu with nutritional yeast. This adds umami and yet another layer of flavor that makes this tofu so tasty.

how to cook tofu
vegan cashew cream sauce with pasta
pasta, sun dried tomatoes, kale and pan seared tofu with dairy free cashew cream sauce

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WATCH ME MAKE THIS PASTA IN THIS VIDEO

pasta, sun dried tomatoes, kale and pan seared tofu with dairy free cashew cream sauce

Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta

Nicole Vranjican
A rich and creamy vegan pasta tossed with flavorful pan-seared tofu, tangy sun-dried-tomatoes, Tuscan kale and a silky Dijon Cream Sauce. 
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Vegan
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients
  

Pantry

  • 1 lb short pasta noodles
  • ½ cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes reserve 3 tbsp of the oil from the jar
  • ½ cup raw cashews

Produce

  • ½ yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic big cloves 🙂
  • 5 cups chopped kale

Cold

  • 1 block firm tofu
  • 1 cup oat milk unsweetened
  • ¼ cup dry white wine

Spices

  • 2.5 tbsp salt-free all purpose seasoning divided
  • 2 tsp dried Italian herbs
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2.5 tbsp nutritional yeast divided
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • kosher salt and pepper

Instructions
 

Prep

  • Pour boiling water over the cashews and set aside to soften.
    In the meantime, drain the water from the package of tofu and gently squeeze some of the water out into the sink. Wrap the block in a clean cloth and place a book on top to weigh it down. This will help release more liquid.
    While that does it thing, chop the onions, mince the garlic, and de-stem and chop the kale. Set aside.

Sear the tofu

  • Unwrap the tofu and cut into bite-sized cubes. Pat dry one more time.
    Then add 3 tbsp of the seasoned oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes to a large skillet. Set to medium-high heat and when warm, add the tofu.
    Sprinkle with 1 tbsp all-purpose seasoning, 2 tsp of dried Italian herbs, 1 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of black pepper.
    Tip: Don't stir or flip for a minute or two to allow the tofu to brown nicely.
    Cook for 5-6 minutes and sprinkle with 1 tbsp of nutritional yeast. Toss to coat and then transfer to a plate and return the pan to the stove.

Cook the veggies

  • Reduce the heat to medium, add a little more oil to the pan if needed and then add the onions to the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes and stir using a wooden spoon to gently scrape the crispy bits off of the bottom of the pan. That's all flavor!
    Add the garlic and cook for one minute.
    Then add the white wine and cook for 1-2 minutes until mostly absorbed but not completely dry.
    Stir in the kale and cook for one more minute.
    Then remove from the heat. Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes to the pan and set aside.

Cook the pasta

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a pinch of salt and the pasta noodles. Cook according to the package directions. About 10 minutes.
    Towards the end of cooking, ladle out 1/2 cup of the pasta water and set aside for later.
  • While the pasta cooks, drain the cashews and add them to a blender with 2 tbsp of Dijon mustard, 1 cup of oat milk, 1.5 tbsp of all-purpose seasoning, and 1.5 tbsp of nutritional yeast.
    Blend for 30-40 seconds until very smooth and creamy.

Assemble

  • Drain the pasta and add it back to the pot over medium-low heat.
    Add half of the Dijon Cream Sauce and the pasta water.
    Stir and cook for 1-2 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken nicely. Then add the veggies, tofu and remaining sauce. Mix well.
    Remove from the heat and squeeze the lemon juice on top. Mix, taste and add more salt and pepper as desired.
    Enjoy!
    HOW TO MAKE THIS IN UNDER 20 MINUTES IN THE NOTES BELOW 🙂

Notes

How to Make this Pasta in 20 Minutes or Less!
  1. Soak the Cashews –> Press the Tofu–>Fill an electric kettle with water and bring to a boil 
  2. Chop the veggies –> Unwrap + Chop the tofu
  3. Sear the tofu then remove from the pan
  4. Cook the veggies + while they cook, fill a large pot with boiling water and add the pasta so the pasta cooks at the same time
  5. Remove the veggies from the heat and set aside with the tofu. When the pasta is almost done cooking, ladle out some pasta water and make the Dijon Cream sauce. 
  6. Blend the sauce
  7. Drain the pasta and combine the pasta, veggies, tofu, sauce and pasta water according to the recipe directions above. 
  8. Spoon into bowls and enjoy! 
Keyword creamy pasta recipe, dinner,, pasta recipes, tofu, vegan pasta sauce

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Nicole Vranjican

Hey! I’m Nicole and I make practical vegan recipes for REAL life. I cook with simple, easy to find ingredients and I’m passionate about creating delicious plant-based meals that everyone will love!

I hope you enjoy my recipes and videos :) Happy Cooking!

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5 Comments

  1. Candace
    January 20, 2022 / 6:13 am

    5 stars
    This recipe is seasoned perfectly, and has such a complex layering of flavors! I’m definitely putting this one in my regular rotation!

    • Nicole Vranjican
      Author
      January 31, 2022 / 11:40 pm

      Aw thank you Candace! I’m so happy you liked it!

  2. Mira
    January 30, 2022 / 6:36 pm

    5 stars
    This pasta was amazing! Making it again for sure!

    • Nicole Vranjican
      Author
      January 31, 2022 / 11:37 pm

      Yay! Thanks Mira! I’m so happy that you liked it 🙂

  3. Lillian
    November 1, 2023 / 12:29 am

    What pasta noodles are these?

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