For centuries, pasta was made with only two or three simple ingredients. While many brands still stick to this recipe today, just as many others have gotten creative with what they put into their noodles.
From bean-based pasta to specialty varieties that are difficult to pronounce, the increasing complexity of pasta recipes has left many wondering if this staple is a good choice for vegans.
So, is pasta vegan? Yes, most varieties of pasta are vegan, including many gluten-free and bean-based options. However, some pasta varieties use eggs which makes them unsuitable for those following a vegan diet.
Want to know which types of pasta are most likely to contain egg? Keep reading! Below, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about pasta, how to spot egg-based noodles, and give you some of our favorite vegan pasta recipes.
What Is Pasta?
Technically speaking, the word pasta refers only to noodles traditionally produced in Italy. These specialty noodles come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes from your typical spaghetti strands to your gigantic, bowl-shaped caccavelle.
For centuries, pasta was produced using simple, traditional methods. Most types of pasta were made by combining wheat and water to get a flat sheet of malleable dough that could be pressed and cut into an unlimited array of shapes.
In Southern Italy, dried pasta, or pasta secca, is the most popular. These noodles are usually made by combining durum wheat and water. In the north, fresh pasta, or pasta fresca, is king. This type is typically made with Triticum aestivum wheat, egg, and water.
Is Pasta Naturally Vegan?
Traditional dried pasta is naturally vegan as it contains no egg or other animal ingredients. Traditional fresh pasta, on the other hand, almost always contains egg and is, therefore, not vegan.
When it comes to finding vegan noodles at your local grocery store, things get a bit more complicated. Many traditional “egg noodles” like tagliatelle are available in fresh and dried forms, and both contain eggs. It is also possible these days to find fresh noodles that are prepared egg-free.
Outside of traditional recipes, you’ll find plenty of new noodle types, including bean-based pasta, gluten-free varieties, and veggie-infused noodles. Many of these are vegan, but not all.
In the end, your best bet is to reference the ingredients list on the back of the pasta package. Any egg ingredients should be readily identifiable even within the more complex and lengthy recipes of new types of pasta.
If you’re at the farmer’s market or somewhere similar where ingredients lists are hard to come by, your best bet is to avoid fresh pasta. In the dried pasta category, be sure to avoid common egg-containing varieties. These include:
By avoiding these types of pasta and sticking to dried noodles only, you can be relatively sure that the product you’ve picked up is vegan-friendly.
Our Favorite Vegan Pasta Recipes
Now that you know which types of pasta are vegan, it’s time to whip up some awesome vegan noodle dishes. Here are some of our favorites:
- Easy Vegan Summer Pasta Salad – This delicious and refreshing summer salad uses fusilli pasta, a variety of tangy veggies, and a homemade vinaigrette dressing that will leave you begging for more.
- Creamy Marinara Pink Sauce – This rich but healthy creamless “cream” sauce pairs perfectly with shell pasta, but is also delightful over penne, spaghetti, or fusilli.
- Vegan Mac and Cheese – This delicious nut-free vegan mac and cheese is so good you’ll have a hard time believing it doesn’t contain any dairy! Create it using elbow noodles, shells, or rotini.
- Easy Vegan Cream Sauce – Looking for a simple recipe that can be dressed to fit your tastes at any moment? This easy vegan cream sauce is the perfect candidate. Make up a batch and pour it over linguine with fresh veggies, elbows with broccoli, or any of your other favorite pasta varieties.
- Vegan Vodka Sauce – This vegan take on the classic sauce uses a variety of fresh vegetables, a multitude of spices, and a dash of real vodka. Pour it over your favorite vegan noodle variety for an unforgettable meal.
- Hearty Vegan Minestrone Soup – Shell pasta pairs perfectly with hearty beans, fresh veggies, and flavorful spices in this classic soup recipe.
- Easy Vegan Pesto – This walnut and kale pesto puts a healthy spin on an old classic. Add some asparagus and tomatoes and toss with your favorite spiral pasta for the perfect dish served warm or cold.
Just about any pasta recipe can be made with a variety of noodle types, so don’t be afraid to mix it up and try out some lesser-known pasta varieties or whatever you have on hand.
Vegan Pasta Primavera
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook gemelli pasta in salted water according to package directions. Reserve 2 cups pasta water before draining.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the broccoli, asparagus, and green beans to the skillet. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
- Add the peas, lemon juice and zest, 1 cup of vegan parmesan, cooked pasta, and half (1 cup) of the reserved pasta water to the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Stir everything together, then cook for 3 to 5 more minutes over medium low heat, until the sauce thickens. Add more pasta water to reach desired consistency.
- Pour the pasta primavera into a large serving bowl or dish. Top with remaining vegan parmesan cheese and serve warm.