Today I’ve got a delicious shortcut pasta recipe to share with you that includes a dairy-free tomato basil cream sauce. It’s slightly rich yet nutritious and very versatile. It pairs well with any pasta, most summer vegetables, or your added protein of choice, if desired.
As much as I love cooking from scratch, I’m certainly not immune to a little bit of convenience, particularly at lunch time. Tony and I work from home, which means I don’t have to pack lunches. This is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, we have a whole kitchen full of food at our disposal. But on the other hand, the lack of forced planning means we are often ill-prepared for a good meal. After all, most food still needs to be sliced, diced, cooked, and served. More often than not, noon sneaks up on us as we’re working away, and I’ve got nothing.
My go-to meal for fast, healthy lunches has become big billowing salads. However, some days we want something with a little more comfort food appeal. So I turned to two of my favorite meal starters: jarred pasta sauce and gnocchi. Homemade is great, but I never feel like I’m cheating when I use good brands of marinara, like Amy’s or Organicville. Plus, it cuts out a ton of work when our stomachs loudly proclaim that time is of the essence. And gnocchi is speedy, taking just 3 minutes to cook!
For a delicious twist, this dairy-free tomato basil cream sauce is enriched with coconut cream and tossed with fresh, seasonal basil. It’s light and vegetarian, yet hearty enough to satisfy Tony’s finicky appetite. Coconut cream may sound like an odd flavor pairing, but the strong and acidic nature of the marinara dominates the scene. In fact, the two neutralize one another. The coconut cream helps to cut the acidity while the tomato overrides any coconut flavor or a wonderful, slightly sweet tomato basil cream sauce.
Special Diet Notes: Gnocchi in a Tomato Basil Cream Sauce
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, optionally gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, optionally soy-free, vegan / plant-based and vegetarian.
Note that milk ingredients and soy oil are often added to pasta sauces. For an option that’s both dairy-free and soy-free, try Amy’s Family Marinara.
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, halved and sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 8 ounces white or cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced
- 1 24-ounce jar dairy-free marinara sauce
- ½ cup coconut cream*
- Salt, to taste (I used a scant ¾ teaspoon, but start with ¼ teaspoon and work your way up)
- Pepper, to taste (i used ½ teaspoon, but start with ¼ teaspoon and work your way up)
- ½ cup (not packed) fresh basil chiffonade (basically twisted and sliced), plus extra for garnish if desired
- 2 packages potato gnocchi (12 to 16 ounces each)**
- Heat the oil in a large skillet (I use non-stick) over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low, add the garlic and sauté, for about 1 minute.
- Add the mushrooms and sauté, for 2 minutes more.
- Stir in the marinara and coconut cream. Bring the heat up to medium for just a minute to get the sauce bubbling slightly, reduce it to low, and allow the sauce to simmer while you make the gnocchi.
- Make the gnocchi according to the package directions. Once the water is boiling, this step only takes about 3 minutes as gnocchi cooks very quickly. Divide the gnocchi between 4 to 6 bowls.
- Add salt and pepper to your sauce to taste. Turn off the heat, and stir in the basil. Pour the sauce equally over the bowls of gnocchi, and if desired, garnish with a few ribbons of basil.
Gnocchi: Some brands of gnocchi do contain dairy in some form, but there are many dairy-free brands. Don Bruno Gnocchi is vegan and Bartenura Gnocchi is even kosher parve. Conte's Gnocchi is dairy-free and gluten-free.
Zucchini Option: For some extra greenery, halve and slice 1 to 2 zucchini into ¼-inch half circles. Increase the oil to 1½ tablespoons and add the zucchini slices with the mushrooms.