Delicious and fun, this Vegan Rasta Pasta recipe is inspired by an original Jamaican dish and is an easy, quick meal to make on weeknights or when you’re short on time. Featuring soy curls as a replacement for chicken and surrounded by fettuccine, bell peppers, green onions, Jamaican curry powder, and, believe it or not, vegan parmesan cheese to create a lick-the-bowl meal you’ll be proud to serve.
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Hey Internet, I’m starting to become really obsessed with these 30 minute one-pot pasta meals, and why not? They’re quick, easy, delicious, and they make cleanup a breeze!
This vegan rasta pasta is something that I found while searching for Caribbean recipes, as I had recently picked up some Jamaican curry powder and I wanted to try it out. I was out of rice, so it seemed like a perfect time to try another pasta dish.
Rasta pasta is not often made with meat, though I’ve seen renditions with chicken or shrimp. I decided to add vegan chicken to this meal to make it a little more hearty, and it certainly provides a great texture! See the substitutions section for different ideas.
While researching this dish, I learned a lot about Rastafarian and Jamaican culture. If you’re interested in some of the information I gleaned, please read the short sections I included below--and I urge you of course to do your own research as well.
But first, let’s talk about what ingredients my version of this fascinating recipe uses.
What You’ll Need
This dish seems to start most often with fettuccine noodles. You can use anything you like, as well as any type of pasta.
If you use another type of pasta, such as chickpea or another gluten-free kind, please follow the instructions on the bag as cooking times can vary.
For the vegan chicken, I used rehydrated soy curls, but if you can’t have soy or don’t have these, you could try chickpeas, store-bought vegan chicken, or tofu (I would bake or air fry this first so it’s not too soft).
I wanted it to have a nice warm flavor, so I used vegan chicken broth for this dish, though vegetable broth would work too. Use Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base mixed with water, as it’s cheaper, easier to store (store leftover base in fridge for months), and the most delicious in my opinion.
You'll also need bell peppers, garlic, and green onions, which seem to be a common ingredient in the research I did. A regular onion is an optional ingredient, but I really loved the extra flavor.
This recipe also uses Poultry seasoning, which, despite the name, contains no actual chicken but herbs like marjoram, sage, thyme, rosemary, nutmeg, and black pepper.
I used homemade vegan parmesan, but store bought will also work.
What really makes this dish, in my opinion, is the Jamaican curry powder and coconut milk. They give this recipe a creamy, delicious, unique flavor that legit made us both lick the bowl. Luna wanted to lick the bowl too, though she’s not as reliable of a food critic.
How to Make Pasta in One Pot with No Straining or Draining!
So there’s a little trick to making the pasta in one pot and not having to strain any liquid out and I’m going to tell you what it is. Are you ready?
Use the same amount of liquid as you do pasta!
We’re taught to boil our pasta in a lot of water and drain it. This is fine. But you don’t really need to (not very authentic of me, sorry).
When making one pot pasta, use a 1:1 ratio of pasta and liquid and it should work. I say ‘should’ because under no circumstances can I make (or should I be making) guarantees.
I am not in your kitchen, I do not know what pasta you’re using, I have not tried them all. I’ve tried quite a few (including Banza chickpea pasta) this way, but I have not tried them all.
How to Make Vegan Rasta Pasta
This recipe is super fast and super quick to make! I love that it’s ready in just 30 minutes, as after I get home from work, walk the dog, and work on the blog for a bit, I need fast food that’s also healthy and delicious.
Start by rehydrating your soy curls in a bit of water or vegan chicken broth. I know the package says to do it for 10 minutes, but I usually do no more than 6-8, because I hate rules (kidding, I just feel the 10 minutes makes them a little soggy).
I just add the soy curls to a bowl and cover them just barely with liquid.
Make sure to drain your soy curls before adding them to the pot--they usually absorb all the liquid for me, but in the case that they don’t, drain them.
Add the soaked and drained soy curls to a large pot (I love a dutch oven for things like this) that’s been heated over medium high heat and cook any excess liquid off. If they start sticking, you can add a splash more broth or water, but I didn’t have an issue with that.
Cook them on medium high for about 6-8 minutes, or until they develop a nice light brown color.
Make a well in the center of them (clear the middle of the pan) and add the regular onions (if using), the white parts of your green onions (save the thin green parts for later) and garlic. Cook that for another minute until fragrant.
Throw in your bell peppers, stir them around for about 2 minutes, and then add your pasta, broth, and Jamaican curry powder. Stir carefully and constantly until the fettuccine softens and it all fits in the pan.
Turn the heat down a notch so it’s between medium and medium high, cover and let cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the food from sticking.
When the pasta is al dente (almost cooked, but still a little chewy), add the green parts of your green onion, coconut milk, and vegan parmesan.
When everything is fully cooked, take it off the heat, serve, and garnish with more vegan parmesan and a little extra green onion. Enjoy!
What is Rasta Pasta and Where Does it Come From?
Rasta Pasta was inspired by Italian cuisine but made with many Jamaican ingredients to create a unique flavor. A quick search suggested that many chefs claim to have invented this dish, though the most common I could find credits internationally celebrated Chef Lorraine Washington.
According to a 2012 article in the Jamaican Gleaner, Washington tells her Rasta Pasta origin story:
"At the Paradise Yard Restaurant in Negril, back in 1985, I was preparing a meal for some construction workers when I placed some ackee on tomato sauce on a bed of home-made fettuccini. The Rasta colours evident in the dish inspired one of the carpenters to name it Rasta Pasta. Another pointed out that the fettuccini was the dreadlocks and so Rasta Pasta was born. They begged me to put it on the menu and there it remained from February 14, 1986 to July 1997."
Though the dish I’ve described above is far from this description, there seem to be a few agreed upon ingredients of a common Rasta Pasta: fettuccine, Jamaican seasoning (some use jerk seasoning on the meat in the dish, some use Jamaican curry powder), bell peppers, green onions, and parmesan cheese.
Many versions of this recipe include meat, and while I couldn’t find out for sure if it’s supposed to or not, it seems that it’s more likely an vegetarian dish in origin.
Indeed, I learned the Rastafarians, the culture this dish is named for, do not eat meat (especially pork) or shellfish (though some do eat fish). What’s even more interesting is that many Rastafarians adopt a diet called ITAL or I-TAL which is plant-based or from the earth!
I know that my dish is far from authentic, but I was definitely inspired by these origins so I wanted to talk about them in this dish. I learned so much about Rastafarian culture while researching this dish, and I always love to learn about cultures other than my own.
Want More 30 Minute Vegan Meals?
I make a lot of 30 minute meals (many of them one-pot) because I too am pressed for time in the evenings. We don’t have kids yet but I do work full time and run a business full-time (I also do freelance writing, oy).
I get it.
So, if you’d like to add a few more quick vegan meals to your arsenal, check out some of the recipes below!
As always, I hope you love this pasta–I know I do, and Mr. Zardyplants does too.
This Vegan Rasta Pasta is:
- And a little spicy (add or lower spice as desired)!
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!