Orecchiette with Creamy Vegan Tomato Sauce

Transport yourself to an Italian trattoria with this scrumptious vegan pasta that tickles your taste buds. Velvety avocado and starchy pasta cooking water are the keys to creating a creamy vegan tomato sauce that bursts with finger-licking goodness. Fresh basil adds a peppery lift, and a handful of spinach (or arugula) thrown in at the end wilts to tender perfection in the savory sauce. Garnish each serving with toasted panko bread crumbs and walnuts for a satisfying crunch. The cupped shape of orecchiette pasta makes it perfect for scooping up sauce to ensure each bite is bursting with flavor, but feel free to use whatever pasta shape you have on hand. Buon appetito!

Tip: Toast panko in a dry skillet over medium until lightly browned.

For more inspiration, check out these tasty ideas:

By Ellen Boeke,

  • 44


  • 12 oz. dry whole wheat orecchiette pasta
  • 1 15-oz. can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small avocado, halved, seeded, and peeled
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ½ cup sliced fresh basil
  • 6 cups fresh baby spinach and/or arugula
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup whole wheat panko, toasted (see tip in intro)
  • 2 tablespoon chopped toasted walnuts


  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water. Drain pasta and return to pot.
  • Meanwhile, for sauce, in a small saucepan cook tomatoes and garlic over medium 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a blender with avocado, vinegar, salt, and crushed red pepper. Cover and blend until smooth, adding ½ cup of the pasta cooking water to make creamy.
  • Add sauce and basil to pasta in pot; toss to coat, adding enough of the remaining pasta cooking water as needed for desired creaminess. Add spinach; toss until wilted. Season with black pepper and additional salt. Sprinkle with panko and walnuts.

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About the Author

Ellen Boeke headshot

About the Author

Ellen Boeke

Ellen Boeke has more than 25 years of experience as a recipe developer and food editor. She holds Bachelor's of Science degrees in consumer food science and journalism from Iowa State University and attended Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France. Find her on LinkedIn.
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