Vegan Creamy Pasta with Seared Mushroom Scallops

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It sounds like something that would be on a restaurant menu: Vegan Creamy Pasta with Seared Mushroom Scallops. But guess what, it tastes even better, and it is super easy to make at home. This garlic-y vegan creamy pasta is packed with incredible flavor and texture, and it comes together in less than 30 minutes. Unlike many vegan cream sauces, this one is 100% nut-free, but just as creamy and rich. If you’ve never made vegan mushroom scallops before, get ready to have your mind (and taste-buds) blown in the best way possible.

Why We Love This Vegan Pasta

  • The ultimate comfort food without the unnecessary dairy
  • Fast & easy to make
  • Family-friendly
  • Tastes better than a restaurant
  • Made with nutritious king oyster mushrooms

The Star Ingredients

King Oyster Mushrooms: Nothing replicates the chewy yet tender texture of sea scallops like king oyster mushrooms. Also known as trumpet mushrooms, they are actually easy to find at your local Asian or international grocery store, and they’re usually very inexpensive (around $2-3 a package). These unique looking mushrooms have a long thick edible stalk and short smooth cap. Those meaty stalks are what we prize. They can be prepared in all sorts of ways––grilled, seared, fried, sautéed, or even shredded for mushroom carnitas tacos. Use them in pastas, stews, stir-fries, tacos, noodles, and soups.

King oyster mushrooms are rich in antioxidants, B vitamins, zinc, and potassium. They are also a good source of fiber and protein. They have an earthy umami (savory) flavor that is almost nutty.

The pasta: One of the most important ingredients in this recipe is the pasta. Not all are created equal. You don’t have to fly to Italy or buy fresh pasta from your local pasta maker. Instead, high quality pasta that will remain chewy, or al dente, when cooked. I recommend a long pasta for this vegan creamy pasta. My favorite is the Whole Foods Brand Bronze-cut Bucatini ($2.99). I also love Pici Dritti from Food 52 ($7). Gluten-free pasta works too.

Pasta Cooking Water: Don’t throw out all of your pasta water. We’ll be using about 1 cup of it for our cream sauce. Pasta water is 100x better than normal water in a pasta sauce because it contains starch from the cooked pasta. This starch will help the sauce thicken, and stick to the noodles. Save at least 2 cups of it so you can add more if you’d like a wetter sauce.

Sauce Ingredients

Miso: Though you won’t use a lot of it, miso is my secret ingredient for making food more delicious. You know how MSG is used in many processed and package foods to make it incredibly delicious? Miso doesn’t contain MSG, but it does contain the same umami flavor, richness, and saltiness. And a little goes a long way in elevating otherwise simple meals.

Miso is a fermented soybean paste. It comes in many different varieties. For this recipe you’ll use mellow or yellow miso. Chickpea miso also works here. More about miso here. 

Nutritional Yeast: The combination of nutritional yeast and miso makes the best replacement for dairy in vegan recipes with a cream sauce. Nutritional yeast is an inactive fortified yeast with a lot of flavor. It tastes like cheese, with a hint of nuttiness and a lot of umami.

Non-Dairy Milk: Soy milk is my favorite for this recipe. Look for a soy milk that only contains two ingredients: soy beans and water. I buy it at Trader Joes. Avoid all non-dairy milks with added sugar or artificial flavors. Almond milk often has added flavor, so be mindful of that. Oat milk is a great choice, as long as it is plain and unsweetened. Homemade cashew milk would work great too. Avoid coconut milk.

How to Make It

Cook the Pasta

Step one: This creamy vegan pasta is so easy to make! Follow the instructions on the back of your pasta to cook. Cooking time will vary depending on the pasta you use. QUICK TIPS: 1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of heavily salted water. Salted water will season the noodles, and help the water come to a boil a little faster. Use kosher salt, about 2 tablespoons should do. 2. Stir the pasta for the first 30 seconds after you’ve added it to the water. This helps the starches break down and it prevents the noodles from sticking. Drain the pasta, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Prepare the Mushrooms

Step two: Prepare the king oyster mushrooms. Remove the tough lower 1-1.5 inch of the stalk (you can feel the difference with a light squeeze). Then cut the mushroom into 1-1.5 inch medallions. You can keep or remove the cap. As you see in the photos and video, I like to keep mine on even though it looks less like a sea scallop. Use a paring knife to score the mushroom slices in a checkered pattern. This allows more juice and flavor to be released and soak back in.

Step three: Full mushroom recipe here. Melt 2 tablespoons of vegan butter in a cast iron large skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms one at a time, cut side down. Sprinkle garlic powder and sea salt over the mushrooms, and then place a heavy lid or another cast iron skillet directly over the mushrooms as they cook. This will draw out the liquid and make them extra meaty. Cook for 8 minutes on medium heat.

Remove the heavy lid or pan, and add minced garlic to the liquid that now surrounds the mushrooms. Use tongs to flip each mushroom. The cooked side should be golden and slightly crispy around the edges.

Continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes on medium heat until the mushrooms are tender and both sides are golden. The liquid will mostly evaporate, but do not let the garlic burn. Remove the mushrooms––but leave the sautéed garlic––from the pan and set aside on a plate. You may keep them hot in the oven at 250°F while you finish the sauce.

Make the Sauce

Step four: Make the sauce. In the same pan you prepared the mushrooms, add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to the hot pan and garlic. Immediately add flour and let it toast on medium-low heat until slightly tan. Add the soy milk, pasta water, nutritional yeast, and miso. Stir well, and use a fork or other tool to break apart the miso paste and blend. Bring to a light simmer and stir until creamy and thick. Add ½ cup more pasta water if you want a wetter sauce. Keep in mind the pasta will absorb some of the sauce as soon as it is mixed in.

Step five: Add the pasta to the sauce and use tongs to toss and coat every noodle. Season to taste with more salt.

Garnish and Serve the Pasta

Serve the vegan creamy pasta with the seared mushroom scallops, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and vegan parmesan cheese. I also like to garnish with chopped fresh herbs, parsley, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Enjoy as is or with a salad, roasted asparagus or broccoli. This also pairs well with my super yummy Cauliflower Piccata recipe.

Tips for the best Vegan Creamy Pasta

  • Cook the pasta in a large pot of water that is heavily salted. Salted water will season the noodles, and help the water come to a boil a little faster. Use kosher salt, and I’m not talking a pinch of salt: at least 2 tablespoons should do.
  • Stir the pasta for the first 30 seconds after you’ve added it to the water. This helps the starches break down and it prevents the noodles from sticking.
  • Place a heavy lid or another cast iron skillet directly over the mushrooms as they cook. This will draw out the liquid and make them extra meaty.
  • Don’t clean the skillet after you’ve cooked the mushrooms. The dirty skillet will add more seasoning and flavor to the pasta sauce, and you’ll have to wash fewer dishes.
  • Toss the pasta in the sauce using large tongs or salad servers.

How to reheat

This creamy pasta makes tasty leftovers. Simply reheat it in the microwave or on the stove.

This is my new favorite vegan pasta recipe, but I also love these:

Avocado Pasta Salad with Fresh Basil & Grilled Vegetables

Spicy Pasta Arrabbiata

Vegan Pasta Puttanesca

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Vegan Creamy Pasta with Mushroom Scallops

Flavor packed vegan creamy pasta for any night of the week. Very easy to make, but fancy enough for special occasions.

Prep Time 10 mins

Cook Time 20 mins

Ingredients  

  • 1/2 package bucatini pasta, or other thick spaghetti here’s a link to one I like
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 lb large king oyster mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp vegan butter
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp all purpose flour or 2 tsp cornstarch (do not toast)
  • 1 cup soy milk (plain and unsweetened) or other plain unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp mellow miso
  • 1/2 cup pasta water + more to make a wetter pasta
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • black pepper
  • parsley
  • 1/4 cup vegan walnut parmesan cheese tap here for the recipe

Instructions 

  • Follow the instructions on the back of your pasta to cook. Cooking time will vary depending on the pasta you use.

  • Cut off the tough lower 1-1.5 inch of the mushroom stalk (you can feel the difference with a light squeeze). Then slice the mushroom into 1-1.5 inch medallions. You can keep or remove the cap. Use a paring knife to score the cut sides of the mushrooms in a checkered pattern.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons of vegan butter in a cast iron large skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms one at a time, cut side down. Sprinkle garlic powder and sea salt over the mushrooms, and then place a heavy lid or another cast iron skillet directly over the mushrooms as they cook. This will draw out the liquid and make them extra meaty. Cook for 8 minutes on medium heat. 

  • Remove the heavy lid or pan, and add minced garlic to the liquid that now surrounds the mushrooms. Use tongs to flip each mushroom. The cooked side should be golden and slightly crispy around the edges.

  • Continue to cook the mushrooms for another 5-10 minutes on medium heat until the mushrooms are tender and both sides are golden. The liquid will mostly evaporate, but do not let the garlic burn. Remove the mushrooms––but leave the sautéed garlic––from the pan and set aside on a plate. You may keep them hot in the oven at 250°F while you finish the sauce. 

  • In the same pan you cooked the mushrooms, add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to the hot pan and garlic. Immediately add flour and let it toast on medium-low heat until slightly tan. Add the soy milk, pasta water, nutritional yeast, and miso. Stir well, and use a fork or other tool to break apart the miso paste and blend. Bring to a light simmer and stir until creamy and thick. Add ½ cup more pasta water if you want a wetter sauce. Keep in mind the pasta will absorb some of the sauce as soon as it is mixed in.

  • Add the pasta to the sauce and use tongs to toss and coat every noodle. Season to taste with more salt. 

  • Serve the vegan creamy pasta with the seared mushroom scallops, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and vegan parmesan cheese. I also like to garnish with chopped fresh herbs, parsley, red pepper flakes, and black pepper.

Notes

  • Salt your pasta water. It will add flavor to the noodles, and the finished dish. 
  • Stir the pasta for the first 30 seconds after you’ve added it to the water. This helps the starches break down and it prevents the noodles from sticking. 
  • Place a heavy lid, bacon press, or another cast iron skillet directly over the mushrooms as they cook. This will draw out the liquid and make them extra meaty.
  • Don’t clean the skillet after you’ve cooked the mushrooms. The used skillet will add more seasoning and flavor to the pasta sauce.
  • Make sure to use non-dairy milk that is plain and unsweetened. Do not use coconut milk. 
  • Keep the mushrooms warm while you make the pasta sauce by placing them in the oven at 250° on an oven safe plate or pan. 





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