Vegan Pasta Cacio e Pepe
Cacio e Pepe: pasta, parmesan and pepper. What could be better? Not much, but a vegan recipe for it would be a start. Don't worry, we've got something for you.
But first of all, where does this pasta dish come from? Surprise – from Italy, obviously. "Cacio e Pepe" translates to "cheese and pepper." Sounds logical since the recipe initially consisted of just those ingredients (pasta, parmesan cheese and pepper). Supposedly Italian shepherds invented the dish. On their wanderings, they had to rely primarily on long-life foods. So the long-lasting parmesan was the perfect solution (source). But how do you veganize a recipe that consists almost exclusively of cheese?
Although you can now buy vegan Parmesan cheese in the supermarket, it doesn't have the same properties as its animal counterpart – it doesn't melt the same way. But we have a few tricks up our sleeve. Our secret weapon, in this case, is cashews. Soaked in water, they make the perfect base for a cheesy, creamy sauce. For the right flavor, we add some vegan Parmesan. You can find a recipe for vegan parmesan here. Of course, you can also use vegan parmesan substitutes from the supermarket. We also add some miso paste. It is made from fermented soybeans and gives the dish a nice umami flavor. We also add a little lemon for acidity. We process all ingredients with a stand mixer to create a creamy sauce. Now add the pasta and, of course, a good amount of pepper. The perfect quick lunch!
Vegan Cacio e Pepe
For the creamy sauce:
- 100 g (3.5 oz) cashews (soaked in warm water for at least 30 minutes)
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tsp light miso paste
- 3 tbsp vegan parmesan
- 1 tbsp oil
- 0.5 lemon (juice)
- 250 g (0.5 lb) spaghetti
- vegan parmesan
To achieve a creamy sauce soak cashews in water (preferably overnight). If you don't have time, leave them for a couple of hours.
Peel the garlic clove. Add the soaked cashews, garlic, miso paste, vegan parmesan, oil, lemon juice and salt to a tall container or stand mixer and puree or blend until creamy. Season to taste.
Bring some salted water to a boil in a large pot and cook the spaghetti al dente according to package instructions. Before draining, skim off about 500 ml of the cooking water and set aside.
First, mix the creamy paste with the cooked pasta. Then add some of the pasta water for an even creamier sauce. Finally, add fresh ground black pepper and serve with vegan parmesan.
Vegan Parmesan Cheese
- 100 g (3.5 oz) cashews
- 50 g (2 oz) chopped almonds
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 0.5 tsp garlic powder
Add all ingredients to a food processor and mix until you get fine crumbles. No worries, in case there should be bigger chunks left, that just makes your vegan parmesan a bit crunchy.
Store in an airtight container or jar and sprinkle on top of your pasta dishes or mix it into your pesto.