"A staple in American Italian restaurants, and on my dinner table as well—who doesn’t love creamy tomato sauce? There is no reason to deprive yourself of it because, OMG, cashew cream is indistinguishable from heavy cream here! This will be your go-to recipe for impressing dates or dinner party guests or even yourself when you just wanna whip something up for a Sunday night Netflix session. I love using coconut oil to sauté the onions because it resembles butter a little more than olive oil does. I realize that coconut oil is soooo not Italian, but just trust me. I also prefer to slice the garlic, rather than mince it, because it gets fabulously caramelized and creates garlic-bite flavor bombs." —Republished with permission from I Can Cook Vegan by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, published by Abrams Books c 2019. —Food52
In a large pot, bring 4 quarts (3.8 L) of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
Preheat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Melt the coconut oil in the pan and immediately add the garlic, flipping it often until lightly browned on both sides, about 2 minutes. Add the shallots and a pinch of salt, turn the heat up to medium, then mix everything together and sauté until the shallots are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and scrape the bottom of the pan to make sure everything comes together. Add the salt, red pepper fakes, black pepper to taste, and the vodka. Bring to a steady simmer and allow the alcohol to cook out, 7 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, boil the penne according to package directions until al dente.
Place the cashews and vegetable broth in a high-speed blender and blend for about a minute or until completely smooth, using a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides every 20 seconds or so.
Add the cashew cream and half of the basil to the sauce (reserve the rest of the basil for garnish). Mix well.
Use a slotted pasta spoon or large wire skimmer to fish the pasta out of the water and add it to the sauce. Continue to simmer until the pasta is fully cooked and the sauce is clinging to the penne, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve topped with the reserved fresh basil and freshly ground black pepper.