Creamy pasta in coconut milk sauce with tomatoes and basil. This vegan recipe requires just a few ingredients but it’s so full of comfort and flavor.
A simple pantry recipe ready in no time and so satisfying, this pasta in coconut milk dish has quickly become a staple in our kitchen. Why not? It is incredibly delicious, healthy and I always have noodles, coconut milk, canned tomatoes, and basil. No need to go shopping, especially not nowadays…
And I just love to combine coconut milk with tomatoes, this is how this dish was actually born. I often make a simple yet amazing curry or soup combining the two ingredients, so one day I thought about making a coconut milk sauce for pasta. My kids just love it!
Table of contents
What will you need?
- Any kind you like, either regular or whole wheat.
- I had pappardelle this time, but I’ve also cooked the dish with spaghetti, tagliatelle, fettuccine and so on.
- Chopped tomatoes from a can. The best choice especially when tomatoes are not in season.
- Fresh tomatoes can be used instead, just make sure that they are ripe, sweet, and juicy.
- I prefer the full-fat version, it is creamier and it has more flavor.
- However, if you prefer the light version, it works as well. In this case, you might want to cook the sauce slightly longer to help it thicken or you can thicken it with starch.
- I use lots of it, it is just amazing in this dish.
- About 4-5 large cloves, but of course, you can use garlic to taste.
- Fresh is best, I always have it on my window sill.
- However, you can use frozen. In extreme cases, you can try the dried one as well, but I am not a fan.
- If I don’t have basil at all, then I would rather use dried oregano instead of dried basil. Dried oregano imparts the dish a slight pizza flavor, my kids love it.
Otherwise, you will need olive oil, vegetable broth, salt and pepper.
How to make coconut milk pasta?
- Start cooking the water for the noodles. When boiling, add salt generously and cook according to the package instructions.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the grated garlic cloves and stir for 30 seconds, don’t let them burn.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and stir for about 2 minutes.
- Pour in the milk, vegetable broth and boil for 10 minutes or until the sauce is slightly thickened and creamy.
- Add the chopped basil, salt, and pepper generously.
- Once the noodles are cooked, drain and mix immediately with the sauce.
What could you add?
- If you would like a cheesy flavor, add 2-3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast.
- Should you not care about making keeping the dish vegan, you can add Parmesan or vegetarian hard cheese.
- When I have it, I add 1-2 handful of fresh spinach to the finished sauce and just let it wilt for a minute or so.
- For an even more filling dish, add one small drained can of chickpeas or small white beans to the dish together with the liquid ingredients. You can leave them whole or mash them very roughly with a potato masher at the end of the cooking process.
- Definitely not vegan/vegetarian, but so delicious: fry a few very finely chopped tinned anchovies with the garlic.
You could thicken the sauce with starch if you like it thicker. It is recommended to do it if you cook the sauce with light coconut milk.
However, a word of caution: cornstarch might make the dish slightly slippery. I’ve heard tapioca starch might do a better job, I cannot say it, I’ve never had that.
In any case, I prefer to let the sauce thicken naturally on the stove, medium-high heat and no lid should do it.
What to serve with it?
I serve the pasta in coconut milk mostly with a light green salad with vinaigrette.
However, we’ve also had it with roasted mixed vegetables like peppers, onions, zucchini, carrots, and so on, whatever I happen to have in the pantry or fridge.
Boiled or roasted broccoli, cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts are great as well.
More coconut milk dishes:
Pasta in Coconut Milk Sauce
- 1 lb pasta of choice 400g, Note 1
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4-5 large garlic cloves to taste
- 1 can chopped tomatoes 450 g/ 14 oz
- 1 can coconut milk 450 g/ 14 oz (Note 2)
- 1/2 cup vegetable stock 125 ml/ 4 fl.oz
- small bunch of fresh basil Note 3
- Start cooking the water for the pasta. When it starts to boil, add salt generously and cook the pasta according to the package instructions.
- Sauce: In the meantime make the coconut milk sauce. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the grated garlic cloves and stir for 30 seconds, don't let them burn or get too much color.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and stir for about 2 minutes. Pour in the coconut milk and vegetable broth.
- Bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat (without a lid) or until the sauce is slightly thickened and creamy. If the sauce is not thick enough, increase the heat to medium-high and let it boil for a few more minutes or until it achieves the desired consistency.
- Add the chopped basil, salt, and pepper generously.
- Combine: Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and mix it immediately with the coconut milk sauce.
- I had pappardelle this time (a wide pasta sort), but pretty much anything goes. Whole wheat or spelt pasta is great as well.
- Preferably full-fat (creamier, more flavor), but a lighter version should be fine as well. In this case, the sauce might need longer to thicken or you might want to help it thicken with some starch. Cornstarch makes the sauce slightly slippery.
- Substitute with frozen basil. If you don’t have fresh basil, try dried oregano, it imparts the dish a lovely flavor as well. I don’t like using dried basil, but you can, if you like it.