This 15-min Creamy Garlic Alfredo Veggie Pasta is a delicious, no-fuss creamy vegetarian pasta recipe perfect for busy moms. It's vegan, gluten-free, and nut-free, made without any complicated ingredients or pricey vegan cheeses.
This content is for informational purposes only and not intended as medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional before making changes to your diet or health regimen. Please see our disclaimer page for more information.
If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that this recipe was a delightful accident! Picture this: I was exhausted from mom-ing all day and late to start dinner, with four hungry boys (yes, counting my husband too) impatiently waiting. We'd crossed the dreaded dinner window, and the temper tantrum pot was simmering.
In moments like these, I take a deep breath, resist the urge to run out the door, and instead find inspiration in my pantry. That day, I found some gluten-free gnocchi and decided to roll with it. My middle child has been on a tomato sauce strike lately, so a vegan cream sauce was the way to go.
Now, my go-to vegan alfredo sauce recipe usually calls for vegan cheese, which I was fresh out of—just one of those days, right? But instead of giving up and ordering sushi, I decided to whip up a simple, easy creamy vegetarian pasta recipe perfect for situations like this, when time is short, and dinner ideas are scarce.
And just like that, another easy family recipe was born! As a gluten-free home chef for many years, I've learned to embrace these moments and create delicious meals for my family, even when it seems impossible. Give this recipe a try; I know it'll become one of your favorites too!
If you're a fan of serving your family an easy pasta dish and have some tofu lying around, you may want to check out our tofu ricotta pasta shells, our fav vegetarian pasta bake
Ditch the Store-Bought Cheese: Make This Nut-Free Creamy Sauce Instead
If you are a vegan or follow a plant-based diet, you probably know how difficult it is to find a delicious and nut-free cheese sauce recipe. Many vegan alfredo sauce recipes require you to soak cashews or add in some store-bought vegan cheese, which can be time-consuming and expensive.
As a busy parent, I am always in need of a recipe with minimal steps and no fancy ingredients. And because my kids take lunch to school, I need nut-free recipes for their lunches.
To make this recipe nut-free, I went with oat milk. It is the perfect vegan beginner milk, as it is versatile and has a subtle flavor. And if you are new to oat milk, I highly recommend it! It won't curdle if you heat it but it will thicken, which is perfect for creating a creamy sauce recipe. Oat milk is also an amazing plant-based milk for coffee lovers because it froths up super well!
To help create creamy, cheesy plant-based sauces, I always have tapioca and nutritional yeast as staple ingredients in my pantry. If you don't have these, I highly suggest purchasing them because they are used in many vegan cheese sauce recipes.
👪Why busy moms love this recipe
When time is of the essence, and you're looking for a dish that'll satisfy the whole family, this creamy veggie pasta recipe is a busy mom's best friend. It's a comforting, flavor-packed meal that's as easy as it is delicious. Here's why you'll love this creamy pasta primavera:
- One-pot wonder: Minimal cleanup means more time to relax with your family.
- Quick and easy: Ready in just 15 minutes, it's perfect for those hectic weeknights.
- Customizable comfort food: Use up your favorite fresh veggies, making it a versatile go-to option.
- Dietary-friendly: It's gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, and packed with plant-based protein.
- Kid-approved: The creamy sauce and pillowy gnocchi make it a hit with even the pickiest eaters.
- Nutritious: Loaded with nutrients from the veggies and chickpeas, it's a meal you can feel good about.
With this creamy vegetarian pasta recipe in your arsenal, you can conquer those busy days with confidence, knowing you have a tasty, nutritious meal that your whole family will enjoy.
🥒Will picky eaters like this
This creamy veggie pasta recipe has won over even the fussiest eaters in my house, and trust me, my middle guy can be quite the critic! He can't resist the smooth, velvety sauce and tender gnocchi that create a delightful texture. Plus, the customizable veggies let you tailor the dish to your little one's preferences! Give this recipe a try and let us know how it went with your little ones.
- Deconstructed pasta: Serve the veggies separately from the pasta if your little one feels intimated by this recipe. That way they can enjoy the pasta and feel less overwhelmed by all the veggies. This trick always helps my boys and at least I know they are being exposed to new flavors without the pressure of having to eat it all together.
- Irresistible texture: The creamy sauce and tender gnocchi create a nice mouthfeel that most kids enjoy. However, select a pasta shape your kiddo loves most or cook it al dente if they are averse to soft textures.
- Customizable veggies: Tailor the dish to your little one's preferences.
- Sneaky nutrition: Get them to eat more nutritious veggies by adding in only 1 new veggie at a time. My boys love olives and chickpeas but are not huge fans of mushrooms. But by pairing it with some of their favourites it is more enticing for them to try it.
🧠 Boost Your Brain Health with This Recipe
Chickpeas: These protein-packed legumes are a fantastic source of essential nutrients like magnesium, iron, and folate, which contribute to better brain function and memory (1, 2). The high fiber content in chickpeas also helps stabilize blood sugar levels, ensuring a steady supply of energy for the brain (3).
Veggies: The colorful array of veggies in this dish not only adds flavor but also provides your child with essential vitamins and antioxidants (4). Broccoli, for example, is rich in vitamin K, which is linked to improved cognitive function, while tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that helps protect brain cells from damage.
Oat milk: This dairy-free milk alternative is a great source of vitamin B, iron, and healthy fats, all of which contribute to brain health. Vitamin B plays a crucial role in nerve function, while iron aids in oxygen transportation to the brain, and healthy fats support optimal brain function and development.
By incorporating this easy, customizable creamy vegetarian pasta recipe into your meal rotation, you'll not only save time and please the pickiest eaters, but you'll also boost their brain health with every delicious bite. So go ahead and let your creativity shine in the kitchen, knowing that your efforts will be rewarded with happy, healthy bellies.
⏲️ Time-saving tip
- Pre-sliced ingredients: Save on chopping time by using store-bought sliced olives and mushrooms, and don't hesitate to opt for frozen broccoli to cut down on prep time even further.
- Cook pasta ahead: Boil a batch of gnocchi ahead of time, drain, and store in the refrigerator. When you're ready to make the dish, simply add the pre-cooked gnocchi to the sauce, and you'll have dinner ready in no time!
- Leftover magic: This creamy veggie pasta recipe tastes just as delicious the next day! Enjoy the leftovers as a cold pasta salad for a quick and satisfying lunch. Simply give it a quick stir, and you'll have a tasty, no-fuss meal that saves even more time.
Pro tip: Keep in mind that some gluten-free pasta brands, particularly those that are rice-based, might not be ideal for pasta salad, as they can become hard when cold.
Our creamy vegetarian pasta recipe is made with simple ingredients packed with fresh veggies and bursting with flavor. Here's what you'll need:
- Favorite pasta: We recently discovered a brand of gluten-free gnocchi, and I just cannot resist those pillowy bites! So that was our pasta of choice for this one.
- Canned chickpeas: for a plant-based protein boost
- Fresh Veggies: Use up whatever you have on hand, but here's our fav combo: broccolini, sliced mushrooms, olives, and cherry tomatoes. The earthy flavors from the mushrooms and the crunch of the broccolini pair nicely with the hint of Mediterranean flair from the olives.
- Oat milk: for dairy-free creaminess
- Veggie stock: For some added liquid without diminishing the flavour
- Lemon juice: for a zesty kick
- Spices: For this recipe, I used fresh garlic (or garlic powder), Italian seasoning, paprika, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper. But feel free to adjust to your family's preferences. Top with red pepper flakes for some extra kick for those spice lovers.
- Gluten-free soy sauce: for a savory umami depth
- Maple syrup: to balance the flavors with a hint of sweetness
- Tapioca flour: to thicken our luscious sauce
- Extra virgin olive oil: the foundation for any good Italian dish
With these ingredients, you'll soon have a mouthwatering, creamy vegetarian pasta recipe that's ready in a flash. Don't worry; we'll walk you through the instructions next!
👩🏽🍳Instructions for making creamy vegetarian pasta
Step 1: Veggie-Palooza Prep
Start by prepping your veggies. Don't worry; this involves minimal chopping!
Roughly chop the broccolini, slice your mushrooms and olives, and mince your garlic and onions. Then drain and rinse the canned chickpeas.
In a small bowl, combine the chickpeas, minced garlic, and onions along with 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Give it a good stir to mix everything up.
Step 2: Cook the Chickpeas
Set a large pot of salted water to boil (for your pasta).
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat and add your chickpea mixture. Sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring often to avoid burning.
Baking alternative: Preheat your oven to 400°F and bake the chickpeas until crispy.
Step 3: Veggie Jacuzzi
Once the chickpeas have softened and the onions and garlic are translucent (about 3-5 minutes), add in the veggies, oat milk, veggie broth, and salt. Cover and cook until the veggies start to soften, about 5 minutes.
Step 4: cheesy sauce
Add in the remaining ingredients (nutritional yeast, remaining paprika and Italian seasoning, soy sauce, and maple syrup), except for the tapioca mixture. Stir and cook uncovered for 5 minutes.
In a separate bowl, mix the tapioca flour with some water to make a slurry, then slowly add it to the sauce. Reduce the heat, add the lemon juice and simmer for another 5 minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken.
Step 5: Gnocchi Pool Party
Once your pot of water starts to boil, add in the gnocchi. Check the package instructions for cooking times. Most gnocchi are done when they float to the top of the pot.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the floating gnocchi to the Alfredo saucepot. Mix well and remove from the heat.
Voilà, your creamy garlic Alfredo veggie pasta is ready to enjoy! If there are any leftovers, this dish will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. Now, sit back and savor your masterpiece.
💭Gluten-free gnocchi tip
Gluten-free Gnocchi: We used Difatti Gluten-Free Gnocchi for this recipe and love them for their clean ingredients. However, it may not be celiac-friendly so make sure you check the label. You can find it at some local grocers or purchase it through this Amazon link (affiliate).
Make your own: If you're feeling adventurous, making your own gnocchi is easier than you might think. Check out this recipe by Ela Vegan or try this chickpea gnocchi recipe by The Vegan Sara, the QUEEN of gnocchi.
🥬Substitutions & Variations
- Pasta variations: Feel free to swap out the gnocchi for other pasta shapes or types like penne, fusilli, or gluten-free spaghetti to suit your preferences or what you have on hand. You can even use the sauce as a garlic bread dipper :0)
- Alternative vegetables: Customize the dish with different vegetables, such as zucchini, bell peppers, or spinach, to cater to individual tastes or to utilize seasonal produce.
- Protein options: If you'd like to try a different plant-based protein, you can replace the chickpeas with white beans or lentils. Both a great option!
- Milk alternatives: If you prefer a different plant-based milk or have an allergy to oats, you can use almond milk, soy milk, or cashew milk as a substitute. Just be mindful of the flavor differences and potential nut allergies when choosing an alternative.
- Non-vegan options: For those not strictly vegan, you can substitute dairy-based ingredients like regular milk, cream, or even cream cheese in place of the oat milk. Grated parmesan cheese can be used to replace nutritional yeast.
These suggestions allow you to tailor the recipe to better suit your individual needs and preferences, while still maintaining the essence of the dish.
🥡Storing and Reheating Your Creamy Veggie Pasta
This creamy veggie pasta recipe can be conveniently stored in the fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container. When you're ready to enjoy the leftovers, simply add a splash of oat milk to loosen up the sauce and heat it on low heat on the stovetop until warmed through.
Please note that freezing this recipe is not recommended, as it will alter the texture of both the gnocchi and the creamy sauce, compromising the overall quality of the dish.
In this creamy vegetarian pasta recipe, we use oat milk as a dairy-free alternative to heavy cream. It provides a subtle flavor and a creamy texture without the need for dairy. You can also use other plant-based milk options like almond milk or soy milk
To maintain a creamy pasta sauce, make sure to cook it on low heat and stir it frequently to prevent it from sticking to the pan or becoming lumpy. If the sauce thickens too much, you can always add a splash of plant-based milk or pasta cooking water to thin it out and keep it creamy.
If your creamy pasta lacks flavor, try adding more seasoning or spices like garlic, onion, salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, or Italian seasoning. You can also add a splash of lemon juice or a drizzle of olive oil to brighten up the flavors. This will help ensure you get the best creamy vegetable pasta recipe!
In this recipe, oat milk serves as a healthy substitute for heavy cream. It is lower in calories and saturated fat compared to heavy cream and provides a good source of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. Other healthy substitutes include almond milk, soy milk, or even pureed silken tofu for a thicker consistency.
🥣Looking for more...
I hope you liked this easy vegan Alfredo sauce recipe! If you are looking for quick pasta recipes perfect for families be sure to check out our latest recipes. If you have any leftover pasta, the creamy pesto is a great recipe to try!
15-min Creamy Garlic Alfredo Veggie Pasta (Vegan & Nut-free)
- 2 packages gluten free gnocchi
- 1 ½ cups chickpeas, rinsed and drained 1 can
- 1 tablespoon olive oil extra virgin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon italian seasoning
Veggies (feel free to use what you have or what your families preferes)
- 1 head broccolini
- 1 cup mushrooms sliced
- ½ cup olives sliced
Creamy sauce recipe
- 2 cups oat milk
- 1 cup veggie stock
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon italian seasoning
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce gluten free
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon tapioca mixed with 3 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Prep your veggies by roughly chopping the broccolini, slicing mushrooms and olives, and mincing garlic and onions. Drain and rinse canned chickpeas. In a small bowl, combine chickpeas, minced garlic, onions, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, and olive oil, stirring well.
- In a small bowl, combine chickpeas, minced garlic, onions, paprika, Italian seasoning, and olive oil, stirring well.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for pasta. In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté chickpea mixture for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add veggies, oat milk, and salt to the skillet. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, until veggies start to soften.
- Stir in nutritional yeast, remaining paprika and Italian seasoning, soy sauce and maple syrup. Cook uncovered for 5 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, create a slurry with tapioca flour and water, then slowly add it to the sauce. Reduce heat, add the lemon juice and simmer for another 5 minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken.
- Cook gnocchi according to package instructions. Use a slotted spoon to transfer cooked gnocchi to the skillet with the Alfredo sauce. Mix well and remove from heat.
- Mudryj, A. N., Yu, N., & Aukema, H. M. (2014). Nutritional and health benefits of pulses. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 39(11), 1197-1204.
- Kennedy, D. O. (2016). B vitamins and the brain: Mechanisms, dose and efficacy—a review. Nutrients, 8(2), 68.
- Nestel, P., Cehun, M., & Chronopoulos, A. (2004). Effects of long-term consumption and single meals of chickpeas on plasma glucose, insulin, and triacylglycerol concentrations. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 79(3), 390-395.
- Gómez-Pinilla, F. (2008). Brain foods: The effects of nutrients on brain function. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(7), 568-578. doi: 10.1038/nrn2421
- Sá, A. G. A., Moreno, Y. M. F., & Carciofi, B. A. M. (2020). Food products as sources of protein and essential amino acids—A global perspective. Food Quality and Safety, 4(4), 209-218.