Vegan Peas and Pas(ta)

This was a first for me! While working on the menu for an upcoming yoga retreat (which I am catering), I was told the meals not only needed to be vegetarian but that one participant doesn’t eat cheese! Bottom line, I had to come up with a substitute for parmesan which is featured in one of my favorite dishes on the menu! After finding a highly rated recipe for a vegan parmesan substitute, I wanted to see how well it performed so I put it to the test! Basically I pulled out all the stops and used all my tricks to create my favorite “parmesan cream sauce”. The final product included fresh black pepper and parsley which I usually add, but it’s the added lemon zest that really brought it home! I think you’ll agree (even if your not a vegan like me) that this is a really tasty dish and that the real parmesan isn’t missed!!! Check it out!!


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 tbsp (heaping) of flour
  • 3/4 cup white wine (I use Pinot Grigio)
  • 1  1/4 cup mushroom stock
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 tbsp vegan parmesan (recipe below) plus additional as garnish
  • kosher salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • 3/4 lb cooked rice pasta (spaghetti style)
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest


  1. In an enamel coated cast iron saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and and cook for 3 – 4 minutes allowing it to soften and begin to caramelize. Add the garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes stirring frequently.
  2. Add the flour and mix to form a paste.  Slowly add the wine and whisk to incorporate. Allow mixture to cook and alcohol to burn off for 2 – 3 minutes. Mixture will begin to thicken.
  3. Slowly whisk in the mushroom stock.  Once added, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.  Continue to stir. Add the peas and heat until peas are cooked through, approximately 2 – 3 minutes.
  4. Add 2 tbsp vegan parmesan* and season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Toss the cooked pasta (reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water) in the saucepan with the sauce, adding reserved pasta water if needed to thin the sauce to desired consistency.
  6. Serve immediately (family style is fun!) with fresh chopped parsley and lemon zest.

Vegan Parmesan:

In a food processor or coffee grinder, pulse 2/3 cup unsalted cashews, 3 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes, 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp garlic powder and 1/2 tsp salt. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Makes approximately 3/4 cup.

*Recipe for Vegan Parmesan is from


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