This Vegan Rasta Pasta recipe is just the best! You may be asking, "what is rasta pasta?" It's a delicious pasta dish with a creamy jerk-spiced Caribbean-inspired sauce. Rasta Pasta is easily made vegan as most of the ingredients are naturally vegan anyway. Non vegan versions will often add chicken to the pasta, however I've used vegan chicken here instead, as well as given you some yummy alternative ideas.
I love these flavours so much, I lived in South London for years which has a huge Caribbean community, so at festival time, these flavours would be pumping out, along with the music. Vanessa who originally wrote this recipe's Mum is also from the Caribbean, so she grew up with all these delicious spicy flavours too.
If you love Jamaican and Caribbean food as much as I do, you need to check out this Jamaican Jerk Jackfruit with Rice and Peas recipe, as well as this Jamaican roti wrap and of course, Ackee and Tofuish. All delicious Carribean inspired foods, made vegan!
🍝What is Rasta Pasta?
Rasta Pasta was invented by a chef called Lorraine Washington. It's a jerk flavoured Caribbean creamy coconut sauce with pasta. The sauce is 'Rasta' because it has jerk seasoning and other typical Caribbean flavours such as coconut and thyme. The trio of bell peppers (red, yellow and green) are the colours of the Rastafarian flag. Even the type of pasta that was originally used (tagliatelle) looks a bit like dreadlocks. Any pasta is fine to use though - we used gemelli pasta which is beautiful and twisted.
A vegan version of rasta pasta is not much different but uses vegan chicken, nutritional yeast instead of cheese, and won't use any dairy cream.
Here are the main ingredients to make the vegan rasta pasta:
- Jerk seasoning - giving that delicious and spicy Carbibbean jerk flavour. You can use a dry seasoning (we love Steenbergs jerk spice) or a jar of liquid jerk seasoning. Use between one and two tablespoons, depending on how spicy you want it.
- Vegetable stock - gives extra flavour to the creamy sauce.
- Bell peppers - one red, one green and one yellow (to match the colours of the Rastafarian flag).
- Scallions/spring onions
- Garlic- as much as your heart desires.
- Turmeric - to give that hint of orange colour.
- Nutritional yeast - giving a cheezy flavour to the rasta pasta, like a true Italian-Caribbean fusion! You could sprinkle some on top of the dish once cooked as a sort of vegan parmesan cheese.
- Pasta - you can use any kind of pasta, but we love using gemelli pasta or tagliatelle as they look a bit like dreadlocks.
- Coconut milk - for a creamy jerk pasta sauce, and to balance the spicyness of the jerk seasoning.
- Salt and pepper
- Vegan chicken - this is optional (you could use beans instead, or leave out completely). A vegan rasta pasta recipe would generally be without chicken, but we wanted to create one that was similar, but vegan. You can make your own vegan chicken from seitan, or buy vegan chicken - we love What The Cluck and THIS Chicken Pieces.
👩🏾🍳How To Make
This is how you make Vegan Rasta Pasta! It's basically about making a jerk-flavoured creamy coconut sauce that's mixed through delicious al dente pasta!
- First of all slice your peppers into similar lengths to the pasta, slice the spring onions and mince the ginger and garlic.
2. Fry off the vegan chicken or seitan pieces until a bit crispy. Cook your pasta in plenty of boiling water. Be careful not to overcook it.
4. Make the creamy jerk sauce by sauteeing the garlic, spring onions/scallions, ginger, and bell peppers in a little oil. Add the jerk seasoning and stir to release the flavours. Then add half of the vegetable stock.
5.Add the coconut milk, the rest of the stock and the nutritional yeast. Cook for a further 5-10 minutes. Then add the al dente pasta and vegan chicken, and stir through.
- Enjoy your vegan rasta pasta with fresh herbs and maybe a grating of vegan cheese!
Any leftovers will keep well in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat to eat, or just eat cold, straight from the fridge. I won't tell.
I do not recommend freezing this recipe.
🌿Substitutions and Variations
Here are some of the easy ways you can switch this recipe up should you need to:
- Gluten Free: Choose a good gluten free pasta in place of regular pasta. You can get some delicious quinoa and chickpea pastas that also add extra protein to the dish.
- Other Veggies: Florets of broccoli, ribbons of carrot, chunks of courgette, add any sweet crunchy veggie in that you have around to suit your own taste buds.
- Tofu: Switch out the vegan chicken pieces with firm tofu. Choose smoked tofu or just firm tofu that you marinate a bit in some seasoning first, then pan fry
- Seitan: Instead of using pre-bought vegan chicken, make your own seitan instead. It's cheaper and just as delicious- my go-to recipe is this Seitan Chicken one.
- Chickpeas or White Beans: Instead of using vegan chicken or tofu, add a tin of white beans or chickpeas to the pasta.
- Less Spicy: Add just a pinch of the Jerk seasoning to the dish if you are sensitive to spice or serving this to kiddos. You can serve it up with extra hot sauce for the spice lovers.
- No Coconut: Instead of using coconut, use oat or soya cream, or blend up some silken tofu to make a creamy sauce.
It is a pasta dish flavoured with Caribbean ingredients, as well as having the colours of the Rastafarian flag reflected in the red, yellow and green bell peppers! Even the shape of the pasta such as tagliatelle, looks like dread locks - but any pasta shape is fine. Many recipes use penne, but we've used gemelli.
It will keep in the fridge for a few days. It's great to add to a tupperware and take out for lunch! It freezes well too.
Yes, we just added it as we wanted an alternative to the non-vegan options which had chicken in them. Either leave out or add some beans instead.
You could blend up some silken tofu and use that to make the sauce creamy instead. That would still be delicious, or use some oat cream instead.
Yes, just use gluten-free pasta. Also, make sure if you're using a vegan chicken that it's gluten-free.
This recipe was developed by Vanessa, one of the original co-founders of this site. Vanessa is now working on her plant based health coaching business, Energise and Thrive Plant Based. She helps people get high energy, great health, and balanced eating with delicious plant-based food.
She’s also brought out her FREE Guide - 5 Steps to Balanced Plant Based Eating which you’re welcome to download. Of course, all the recipes she has created for The Vegan Larder (like this one!) will remain here for you to access.
If you love this vegan rasta pasta then you'll love some of our other Caribbean-inspired recipes such as:
You may also love some of our best pasta recipes too, which are perfect for midweek meals!
Vegan Rasta Pasta
- 2 Saucepan
For accuracy, I measure all ingredients in metric as standard, then convert and test the recipe for American cup measurements etc.
(Heads up Aussie and UK readers- your measurements in cups are sometimes different, so please use metric or check you have the correct cup and spoon type!!)
- 1 packet vegan chicken (around 200g or 1½ cups, homemade or bought, leave out if desired)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 120 ml (½ cup) vegetable stock
- 3 bell peppers (ideally one red, green and yellow)
- 1 bunch scallions / spring onions (finely chopped)
- 5 cloves garlic (finely chopped/crushed)
- 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger (grated)
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme (use dried if you don't have fresh)
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1-2 tablespoon jerk spice (just use 1 tablespoon for a milder sauce)
- 400 ml (1⅔ cups) full fat coconut milk (full fat helps give a creamier sauce, equivalent on 1 tin/can)
- 30 g (½ cup) nutritional yeast
- 360 g dried pasta (enough for 4, around ½ cup or 90g per person)
To Serve (optional)
- Fresh parsley
- Sprinkling of nutritional yeast
- Vegan cheese (grated)
- Place a saucepan/frying pan on a medium heat with the olive oil. Once hot, fry the vegan chicken until a little brown and crispy (or use an air fryer). Set aside. Skip this step if not using vegan chicken.
- Cut up the peppers into slices, then cut each slice in half.
- In a large saucepan, sautee the peppers, scallions, garlic and ginger in half of the stock. Reserve the rest of the stock for later.
- Once the veggies are softened (after around 5 minutes), add the jerk spice, turmeric, thyme, salt and pepper. Let the flavours infuse for a few minutes while stirring.
- Add the tin/can of coconut milk, the rest of the stock and the nutritional yeast. Let it cook for another 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, cook your pasta. Follow the instructions on the packet until your pasta is as you like it (I like mine al dente - or with a bit of bite to it!).
- Once the pasta is done, drain and add to the rasta sauce, along with the vegan chicken. Mix in gently until all the pasta and chicken is coated.
- Serve your vegan rasta pasta with some chopped fresh parsley (or any fresh herbs), a squeeze of lime and maybe grate on your favourite vegan cheese.
WOW these flavors were amazing!!! Such a great, healthy dish! It was a hit!
This looks absolutely delicious and I like the name too. Jamaican food is a big favorite at my home.
Such a great recipe for lunch or dinner! Can't wait to try it soon ♥
I love the full, bright flavors! This is such a great pasta dish, and my family loved it!
Amanda Wren-Grimwood says
I love the idea of a spicy pasta sauce. My husband will love this on our next pasta night.