Penne with Asparagus and Portabella in a Creamy Vegan Tomato Sauce

May 8, 2015

Revisiting one of my old favorites today! I used to make this allll the time, then stopped and I’m not sure why. I made it again recently and thought that I should really update my old terrible photos (I’ll leave them in at the bottom for embarrassment/kicks). Sadly, the new photos are only marginally better — I had this idea in my head that I just HAD to use a square plate because I used a square plate last time. Not my finest idea.

Penne with Asparagus and Portabella in a Creamy Vegan Tomato Sauce @hiddenfruitnveg

Asparagus though? Always a good idea. Unless you have to actually hear me talk when I’m making it — then you might want to just wait to come over until it’s done cooking. Because if we were keeping a list of the annoying things I do, we should put this on the top: when I’m talking about asparagus, I always ask people if they can “uh spare a goose”. Look, I get it. It’s not funny the first time you hear it, and it’s less funny when you hear it for the 4th time in 20 minutes. I just can’t help it.

Penne with Asparagus and Portabella in a Creamy Vegan Tomato Sauce @hiddenfruitnveg

So… can you uh, spare a goose? Maybe in Port A’bella? I’ll see myself out.

Penne with Asparagus and Portabella in a Creamy Vegan Tomato Sauce @hiddenfruitnveg

Pssst. If you previously pinned or otherwise bookmarked the old post, that link will still work but the recipe has been updated either way to clear up some typos and just all around poor judgement on my end from when I wrote it up 🙂

Penne with Asparagus and Portabella in a Creamy Vegan Tomato Sauce @hiddenfruitnveg

Here’s the old post if you want it.



I’m going to keep this post short and sweet, as I’m still just feeling yucky. I’ve made this pasta a few times and for some reason it never crossed my mind to post it. If you don’t like mushrooms or asparagus (crazy people!) I think a wide variety of veggies would go great with this sauce.


I’ve tried once or twice to make a quick marinara sauce, and it always fails miserably. My most recent attempt tasted like if I made salsa with vaguely Italian seasonings – not good. This is no marinara sauce, but it is a great sauce for coating pasta and veggies. It’s mild and creamy, slightly cheesey. In one word: delicious. This is by far my current favorite way to eat pasta!


Penne with Portabella Mushrooms and Asparagus in a Tomato Cream Sauce (Vegan or not)
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 6

  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 c milk choice (I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • ½ c nutritional yeast or ¼ – ½ c fresh shredded Parmesan
  • ½ tsp onion powder (see note)
  • ½ tsp garlic powder (see note)
  • 1 tsp agave (or a heaping tsp sugar)
  • 1 tsp lemon
  • Splash of liquid smoke (optional)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce (or GF/soy free substitute)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 ½ tbsp cornstarch
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb asparagus
  • 1 tbsp butter or margarine (or nonstick spray or a thin layer of water)
  • 2 – 4 portabella mushroom caps (pictured with 4)
  • 12 oz whole wheat penne pasta or gluten free pasta

  1. Cook pasta according to package. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, combine tomato sauce, milk, yeast/cheese, onion powder, garlic powder, garlic, lemon, liquid smoke, and soy sauce in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Once hot, combine water and cornstarch in a small dish and whisk into the sauce. Reduce heat and stir occasionally until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Trim asparagus and mushrooms to approximately the same size as the pasta. Melt butter (or heat water/nonstick spray) over medium heat in a separate pan from the sauce. Add the asparagus and saute for approximately 5 minutes then add the mushroom. Saute until they’ve reached your desired level of tenderness. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add the noodles and sauce right to the pan with the mushrooms and asparagus. Stir to combine and serve.
  5. This makes EXCELLENT leftovers — sauce is even better the next day.

For a fresher, bolder taste, use 2 cloves chopped garlic and 2 tbsp chopped onion and lightly saute before adding the tomato sauce, etc and omit the dried garlic/onion.
Nutritional info is for nutritional yeast, without the use of butter.

Nutrition Information
Serving size: ⅙th Recipe Calories: 315 Fat: 3g Carbohydrates: 61g Fiber: 13g Protein: 19g


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    Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health May 08, 2015

    I don’t know what you’re talking about! These pictures are beautiful! They’re making me crave this pasta like crazy too. Yum!

    I have so many old recipes that I’m dying to update too. Sometimes I look back at the writing, the pictures and the formatting and I can’t believe I published such crapola!

      Kelly May 10, 2015

      I like to think I just didn’t know better, but really the old posts are just great for a good laugh. I think I have a problem with square plates, I guess. The whole time we were taking the photos I kept thinking how they just weren’t very good, but I was way too hungry to replate!

    Medha @ Whisk & Shout May 08, 2015

    This looks totally delicious and I love how it’s totally creamy yet still vegan 🙂