Easy, 20 Minute Vegan Pasta

By Alexandra Caspero on November 11, 2020
My favorite weeknight pasta, ready in just 20 minutes.
4 servings

Easy, 20 Minute Vegan Pasta! You are going to love this healthy, easy vegan pasta! With a trick to creating glossy, restaurant-style pasta, this is a must save for quick dinners. 

This pasta is my go-to meal for so many dinners. It’s vegan, loaded with vegetables and delicious. Plus, it’s ready in less than 20 minutes, perfect for any I’m so hangry moments. 

I don’t know about you, but most days I am completely exhausted from the many home, parent and work responsibilities and getting a healthy dinner on the table sometimes feels like just one more thing on the to-do-list. Well, not so with this easy vegan pasta, a simple meal that you don’t need a recipe for one you’ve made it a few times.  

Ingredients you’ll need:

The real beauty of this simple weeknight pasta is how few ingredients you need to put it together. 

  • Olive oil
  • Shallots and garlic cloves; in a pinch you can choose to use one or the other
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Fresh spinach leaves
  • Linguine or other long pasta
  • 1/4 cup vegan parmesan cheese, or my homemade parmesan cheese

Healthy Vegan Pasta Recipe

How to make this easy vegan pasta dish

To start, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Salting the water before adding the pasta ensures that your pasta will have enough flavor before adding to the sauce. 

Next, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the garlic and shallots until soft, then add in the red pepper flakes. Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, then add in the undercooked pasta. 

Trick for creamy tasting pasta without any cream sauce

Ready for the ultimate trick to make this pasta super creamy and delicious? Forget the directions on the box and cook for a little more than 1/2 of the recommended cooking time. For instance, if the spaghetti will be ready in 10 minutes, cook it for 6.

Then, add your not-quite-cooked noodles to the pot along with a ladle or two of pasta water. Increase the heat to high and keep stirring as the noodles absorb the water. Add more water, a ladle at a time, until the pasta texture is cooked al dente. Doing it this way ensures that every strand will be coated in the yummy shallot garlic sauce. Season to taste with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes as needed. 

For the ultimate creamy vegan pasta sauce, I recommend adding in a pat of dairy-free butter at the end to keep things glossy and smooth.

Top with vegan parmesan cheese

Make this vegan parmesan to sprinkle on just about everything. Made with cashews, almonds, nutritional yeast, salt and garlic powder, It’s amazing how much it tastes like regular parmesan cheese. 

Nutritional yeast can be found in most co-op/Whole Foods-like places (check the bulk section) or online. This is not brewers yeast, it’s nutty, sharp and very similar to cheese. You can store the leftovers in the fridge or freezer.

For more flavor, you can consider topping with chopped fresh basil or other fresh herbs like chopped parsley. A swirl of pesto at the end is also delicious if you have it in the fridge.

20 Minute Pasta Recipe

What veggies can I use instead of spinach?

I used spinach here, because there’s no chopping involved and I always have it in my fridge, but feel free to sub in any green of your choice. Chopped kale, chopped broccoli rabe or finely chopped broccoli florets will also work here. 

Mushrooms can also be substituted, but I’d recommend browning them in olive oil first with the shallots and garlic before adding the pasta. 

Can I add tomatoes? 

This easy vegan pasta recipe is essentially my take on my family favorite aglio e olio recipe so I don’t add in any tomato sauce, tomato paste or fresh tomatoes. 

However, if you love tomatoes in your pasta then I recommend halving cherry tomatoes and sautéing them with the shallots until the burst, then adding in the pasta as directed. 

Can I use penne pasta?

Long noodles like spaghetti or fettuccine are my preferred shape for this vegan pasta recipe, but you can sub a shorter noodle like penne or rigatoni if you’d like. I’d recommend undercooking as directed before adding to the sauce pan. 

For a gluten-free pasta, you can use any gluten-free pasta of choice.

Healthy Vegan Aglio E Olio Recipe


More Vegan Pasta Recipes:

More Easy Vegan Pasta Sauces:

If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag your Instagram photos with #delishknowledge . I absolutely love seeing your creations. Happy cooking!

Easy, 20 Minute Vegan Pasta! You are going to love this healthy, easy vegan pasta! With a trick to creating glossy, restaurant-style pasta, this is a must save for quick dinners. | www.delishknowledge.com

Easy, 20 Minute Vegan Pasta

  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 3 -4 servings 1x


20 minute dinner. You are going to love this healthy, easy vegan pasta!

  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 3 -4 servings 1x
  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 3 -4 servings 1x


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 8 ounces spinach leaves
  • 8 ounce linguine
  • 1/4 cup vegan parmesan cheese (I use myhomemade version to keep in the freezer)


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft and caramelized, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes and pinch salt/pepper.
  3. Add in the spinach and cook until wilted.
  4. Meanwhile, add the pasta to the salted water and cook a little more than half of the recommended time. For instance, if al dente is 10 minutes, cook for 6.
  5. Add the slightly uncooked pasta to the skillet along with 2 ladles of pasta water. The pasta water has starches to help the sauce cling to the pasta, so don’t substitute regular water. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until the water has evaporated. Continue to add more pasta water, one ladle at a time (might only need 1-2 more) until pasta is al dente/cooked through.
  6. Stir in the parmesan cheese and season to taste, if needed.

did you make this?

Tag @delishknowledge on Instagram and hashtag it #delishknowledge

This post was originally posted in 2016 and updated in 2020.

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Plant-Based Chef and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

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    1. Rachel
      February 12, 2023 AT 3:02 pm

      This was so delicious. I added rocket instead of spinach as that was what I had. I used ‘Parveggio’ by Green Vie (vegan Parmesan). I must admit I didn’t think it would be so flavourful based on the list of ingredients but I am so happy I tried it because this will now be a regular recipe of mine! Thank you!

    2. Petrina
      June 16, 2022 AT 3:39 pm

      Came across recipe by Google search. Wanted to make it right away so I had to sub many things. Onions,red peppers,kale cabbage.bok choy. Added lots flavor. Ginger,cumin,curry,turmeric plus other recipe suggests. I did not have parm cheese used my vegan cheese n lentil fusilli pasta. It was to die for. Even my son loved it he is not vegan. I will be making it for us from now on. I have so many sensitivities n food issues this made my day. I will try cashew parm next time when have ingredients. Thank u for such great idea. I hope to find more of your recipes I can eat. i can eat. Petrina Canada/ powergirl.

    3. Ruth stagnitta
      March 24, 2022 AT 1:50 pm

      I made for dinner now many blessings to you for sharing Alex!

    4. Rochelle
      June 23, 2021 AT 10:09 pm

      Thank you so much for connecting how our daily choices impact the world we live in. “We vote with our dollar; we vote with our fork.” In our capitalistic world our strongest voice is where/how we spend. Let’s starve those destructive industries while nourishing ourselves.

    5. Leah
      May 17, 2021 AT 2:53 pm

      Everything is political! Thank you for sharing your views and the recipe.

    6. Ben
      September 11, 2020 AT 5:53 pm

      Made this for a kid who needed carbs for a soccer game and his brother who has a dairy allergy. This was SO. DELICIOUS. All 5 of us loved it! Can’t wait to make it again.

    7. Alison
      August 23, 2020 AT 4:44 am

      Looks delicious! I look forward to making this, this evening ☺️ Do you know the calories per portion? Thank you.

    8. Mitzi Hallmark
      February 16, 2020 AT 5:03 pm

      This is SO good. Thank you!

    9. D. Cruz
      November 26, 2019 AT 6:34 pm

      Wow! This is one of the best recipes I’ve ever found on the internet. First of all, it’s surprisingly tasty considering how many ingredients are used and how long it cooks. Second, the time hacks are spot on…I hate it when the time takes twice as long as the recipe tastes. This is the kind of meal to cook for a non vegan to convince them that life can continue if they tradition to a vegan lifestyle. Thank you!

      1. Alex
        November 27, 2019 AT 2:21 pm

        So glad you liked it! Thanks!

    10. Barbara Nord
      June 26, 2019 AT 2:20 pm

      I think the shallots and Parmesan cheese must be very important because I used an onion and dairy free cheese (which my husband prefers) and it came out too bland, unfortunately. I did then add more spices and more garlic, and more veggies and it was good.