This vegan and vegetarian Rasta Pasta recipe is a creamy pasta dish with Jamaican-inspired flavors. It comes together in less than 30 minutes and can easily be made gluten-free, too.
This creamy pasta dish is truly a bit of unique comfort food with a nice touch of spice! It comes together in no time at all, making it a great busy weeknight dinner for all to enjoy.
🍝 What is Rasta Pasta?
The original Rasta Pasta is a fusion of Caribbean and Italian cuisine in a delicious pasta dish believed to have first been created by chef Lorraine Washington and served on the menu at the Paradise Yard Restaurant in Negril, Jamaica in 1985.
❤️ Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Rasta pasta is a quick and satisfying meal to throw together, perfect for a busy weeknight.
- Loads of spice and flavor are to be found in this pasta dish. It certainly is not boring!
- It makes excellent leftovers and even tastes delicious cold and straight from the refrigerator.
- Naturally vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, and easily gluten-free.
🫑 Ingredients and Substitutions
Pasta: This vegan rasta pasta recipe can be made with conventional or gluten-free pasta. I love to use fusilli pasta or penne pasta, but any shape will get the job done! For gluten-free pasta, I love using the Jovial brand.
Oil: Any oil you prefer will work. I like avocado oil or olive oil. If not vegan or dairy-free, a pat of butter will work well, too.
Bell peppers: To keep in line with the Jamaican theme, traditionally speaking, green, red, and yellow peppers are used as those are the colors of the Rastafarian flag. Having said that, taste-wise, it’s okay to use any bell peppers you have on hand.
Onion, garlic, and ginger: These are the base aromatics of the recipe and contribute a lot of flavor to the dish.
Spices: Jamaican jerk seasoning is a must for this dish, but you can choose one that has spices that are agreeable to you. For instance, if you are a major spicy foods fan, choose a jerk seasoning with dehydrated scotch bonnet peppers. If you only want a little spice, choose a jerk seasoning that incorporates cayenne pepper or just black pepper. I also recommend choosing a blend that contains allspice (it really isn’t jerk in my eyes without this unique spice!). Thyme and turmeric are added as they are traditional Caribbean spices and help round out the sharper flavor notes in this recipe. Finally, the smallest touch of sugar helps balance everything out. I like to use coconut sugar, but white sugar or brown sugar gets the job done just as well. But, if you are sensitive to sugar, simply omit it.
Coconut milk: Full-fat coconut milk or coconut cream works best in this recipe as it adds some creaminess that thickens as it cooks and cools. If you are not vegan or dairy-free, you can use heavy cream instead.
Lime juice: Lime juice adds the perfect touch of acidity that helps balance all of the flavors. If you do not have lime juice, you can use lemon juice or apple cider vinegar instead.
Salt: When it comes to this particular dish, I do recommend holding off on salting until the last step as the saltiness of this dish is dependent on the Jamaican jerk seasoning you use in it. Some Jamaican jerk spice blends are very salty and others do not contain any added salt. So, I advise you to salt the dish to suit your own tastes toward the end!
Cilantro: I prefer cilantro in this dish, but any fresh herbs (or even scallions or chives) will work as a nice garnish. Parsley, basil, and fresh thyme work well, too.
🔪 How-to Make Rasta Pasta
💭 Top Tips
- Do not skip step 3 where you saute the spices for a few minutes. This is called “blooming” and it allows the spices to release their full flavor potential.
- If you are not vegan or dairy-free, you can use heavy cream instead of coconut milk, butter instead of oil and you can stir in some shredded parmesan cheese (or even vegan cheese) at the end of cooking.
- If you are not vegetarian or vegan, this dish works well served with chicken or shrimp.
❓ Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. Everyone’s tastes vary, but I would say Rasta Pasta is medium-spicy.
You can keep Rasta Pasta stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Add leftover Rasta Pasta to a skillet over medium-low heat, then cover. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until warm throughout.
Yes. To store Rasta Pasta in the freezer, place the leftover pasta into a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Allow it to thaw in the refrigerator before heating and serving.
🍲 More Delicious Pasta Recipes
Creamy Rasta Pasta Recipe
- 8 ounces pasta of choice conventional or gluten-free, cooked according to package directions
- 1 tablespoon oil avocado oil or olive oil
- 3 bell peppers 1 red, 1 green, 1 yellow, sliced into strips
- ½ white or yellow onion diced, or 2 green onions
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 inch fresh ginger root minced
- 2 tablespoons Jamaican jerk seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon coconut sugar or any granulated sweetener
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 13.5-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- salt to taste
- chopped fresh cilantro to garnish
- Cook the pasta according to package directions, then drain, rinse and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, add the oil, peppers, onion, garlic and ginger. Saute for 10 minutes or until softened and beginning to brown.
- To the same skillet, add the jerk seasoning, thyme, turmeric, sugar and pepper. Saute while stirring for 1-2 minutes longer or until the spices smell very fragrant.
- Turn the heat to high, then add the coconut milk, lime juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
- Simmer for 5 minutes or until the sauce begins to thicken.
- Add the pre-cooked pasta and toss to coat.
- Taste the pasta, then add salt as needed (see notes below).
- Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro before serving.