Creamy Vegan Pasta Sauce with Lemon and Capers and Other Stuff

Most of the time when I’m developing a recipe, I have a goal in mind to create X or Y and I figure it out as I go along. But some of my favorite dishes have happened almost on accident as I start throwing together whatever I can find in the kitchen that sounds like it might go well together. This pasta sauce is definitely in that latter category. I stumbled on a variation of this last month and it has since become one of my favorite meals.

I’ve done a lot of pasta sauces, even cream sauces, on this blog and this one is kind of the culmination of everything I’ve learned so far, with lots of new and interesting flavors that are really unlike anything I’ve ever made. It starts with a base of capers and lemon for tons of brightness, then we add a bunch of fresh cherry tomatoes into the mix and cook them down before adding blended cashew cream and basil, and finally serving tossed with your favorite pasta.

There really is nothing better. And as a bonus, it is also one of my simplest recipes. The ingredient list is just 8 items long, it’s easy to make, and comes together very quickly.

Makes: 4 servings


  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons capers + brine
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup raw cashew pieces
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 16 oz pasta (your favorite kind)

Prep: Soak the cashews for at least an hour in fresh water before blending into cream below.

Step One

In a large skillet, begin warming the capers with a tablespoon or so of their brine along with 3 cloves of minced garlic and a lemon that has been cut into rounds with the seeds removed. (Just throw the whole lemon in there, peel and all. It will make the dish more flavorful in the end). Add a splash of water too and allow to cook over medium heat.

Step Two

Meanwhile, slice each cherry tomato in half lengthwise. This will take a minute but it’s worth the effort. When done, add to the skillet with a generous amount of salt & pepper and basically just allow this to simmer (with a lid, if possible) for at least 20 minutes, until the acidity in the tomatoes has been cooked off and everything is melding beautifully.

If nothing else, your kitchen will start to smell pretty phenomenal at this point…

Step Three

While everything above is cooking, drain and then blend the cashews with a few pinches of salt and just enough fresh water to make a cream – it’s okay if it’s a little runny because the cream will thicken when cooking. Set this aside until the tomatoes are ready. Also at this point: begin boiling a pot of water of the pasta.

Step Four

After about 20 minutes of simmering, remove and discard the lemon slices, then pour the cashew cream into the skillet along with about 1/4 cup of basil (cut into slivers, or chiffonade, if you’re cool like that). Also add the pasta to the boiling water. Just allow the cashew cream to simmer for just as long as it takes the pasta to cook – you really just want to bring it up to temperature. When the pasta is done, drain, toss with the sauce, and serve with a grind of pepper and a sprig of basil.

Note: Cashews tend to thicken as they cook, so if the sauce becomes a little too thick for your liking after adding the cashew cream, feel free to add some water or even vegetable broth to thin it out if needed.


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  1. This looks perfect for me; I love lemon and capers a bit of sour and a bit of bitter/salty; I’m wondering if a few olives might be a good addition.

  2. Hey Andrew,

    Is there a print option for this recipe and I’m just not seeing it by chance? I’m not one to cook with electronic devices in the kitchen and prefer a printed recipe to follow, then keep in a binder.


    • Yes! But it’s kind of hard to notice. At the end of the recipe text is a row of buttons and it’s the last on there, the grey printer icon.

  3. Just had this for dinner and it was great! I added a few sun dried tomatoes and had a few roasted tofu bites over it as a protein topping. Tasted like a fancy Italian sauce:)

  4. I made this last night and it was honestly incredible. So easy and fresh and I already can’t wait to make it again!

    The only thing I struggled with was the cashew cream which turned out to be a bit on the chunkier side, and not as creamy/smooth as the picture looks. It didn’t take away from the dish at all, but any thoughts on why?

    • Hi Mona, that’s awesome, I’m glad you liked it so much!

      The cashew issue would be due to a combination of not soaking for long enough + not using a powerful enough blender. If you have a vitamix, you can actually get away with not soaking at all. But if you are having trouble with your blender, soak for at least 4 hours so they’re super soft and then blend for a full 2-3 minutes and you should be good!

  5. Hey Andrew thanks for you post about letting the Cashew soak as this does make sense as to make it much better for protein intake

  6. Holy mother of all things flavorful! This was amazing!! We fell off the healthy eating train between knee surgery and a move. Finally had time to return to our favorite blog and found this gem. We will make this again and again! Thank you, Andrew!

    • Aw, that’s awesome! Thanks for stopping by to let me know 🙂 I’m so glad you liked it, and I hope the move / knee surgery went okay!

  7. I know this recipe is a couple years old, but it’s new to me! It has become our absolute go-to meal of the quarantine. Just made a double batch tonight. Rarely do I enjoy recipes just as is but for this I make no substitutions. It’s perfect!

    • Hi Ann, that’s awesome! I’m so glad to hear you’re enjoying this recipe, thanks for taking a minute to let me know… it’s one of my favorites too and you just reminded me that I haven’t made it in a while 🙂

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