20-Minute Vegan Penne Rosa! Easy and so flavorful you'd never guess it's dairy-free! (Gluten-Free)

2017 will mark my 5th year being gluten-free. I was diagnosed with celiac disease a year after my oldest son was born. Celiac disease is a genetic condition that can lie dormant and be triggered by a stressful event. In my case the stressful event was all the hormone and immune changes my body went through during pregnancy and postpartum.

The diagnosis caught me completely off guard. I hadn’t been feeling well for months. I had been to doctors for all kinds of things from headaches to a sick stomach to a mysterious rash on my knees, elbows and feet. It was frustrating because I knew something was off and I didn’t feel right, but there were no answers!

20-Minute Vegan Penne Rosa! Easy and so flavorful you'd never guess it's dairy-free! (Gluten-Free)

It turns out my skin rash was dermatitis herpetiformis, the skin manifestation of celiac disease. I don’t think doctors would have caught my celiac disease for years if I hadn’t had a skin biopsy! I’m actually really grateful I found out when I did because it meant there was a reason I wasn’t feeling well – and something I could do about it!

I felt immediately better after going gluten-free. My skin got 100% better and my stomach didn’t hurt anymore. However, I still didn’t feel all the way better. It took me over a year to even think that dairy might be the culprit. I love, love cheese and ice cream and the thought of giving those up was harder than giving up gluten!

20-Minute Vegan Penne Rosa! Easy and so flavorful you'd never guess it's dairy-free! (Gluten-Free)

In 2013 I went to my naturopathic doctor and had more food allergy testing done. My food panel came back very positive for dairy! I went totally dairy-free and finally began to feel totally better.

People who have a problem with gluten very often have a problem with dairy. Many people are familiar with lactose-intolerance, which is a reaction to the sugar (lactose is a sugar just like glucose and fructose are sugars) in milk. People with lactose intolerance lack the enzyme to to break down lactose. However, what I have is an intolerance, or an immune response to the proteins (like casein and whey) in milk. Gluten is also a protein and casein is a common protein that cross-reacts with gluten.

I’ve found that I can still eat butter, which has almost not protein in it, but other than that I eat dairy-free on a daily basis and have come to embrace all the delicious food I can eat!

20-Minute Vegan Penne Rosa! Easy and so flavorful you'd never guess it's dairy-free! (Gluten-Free)

Before we get to this delicious dairy-free penne rosa recipe I want to tell you about the So Delicious 21-Day Dairy-Free Challenge! I think leading a dairy-free lifestyle is an easy and delicious way to live, but I understand that it can seem daunting at first. But have no fear! So Delicious is here to help make your transition to dairy-free living for 3 weeks as easy as possible.

The So Delicious Dairy-Free Challenge runs from January 23rd – February 12th. You can sign up for the So Delicious 21-Day Dairy-Free Challenge for free on their website. If you sign up by January 23 you’ll get:

  • A chance to win a year’s supply of So Delicious Dairy Free
  • A new coupon each week to make your next meal delicious
  • Simple Dairy Free Swaps and Tips
  • Dairy Free Shopping List
  • Dairy Free Snack Guide
  • And more…

You can also like the So Delicious Facebook Page as a support and resource group. They will be sharing tips from nutrition experts, giving away prizes, sharing recipe ideas and more during these three weeks. They will also have fun giveaways with coupons and dairy-free survival kits with products to get you started! The Facebook Group is filled with people sharing photos, videos, recipes, experiences, ideas for how they are substituting dairy.

I know many of you are already dairy-free, but if you’re not I highly encourage you to join the challenge. My pesky symptoms didn’t go away until I cut out gluten and dairy. It is so worth it to feel better, and is absolutely a delicious way to live!

This pasta is made dairy-free with So Delicious Cashew Milk or Almond milk and a sprinkle of dairy-free parmesan cheese. You’ll love how flavorful it is and won’t miss the dairy!



20-Minute Vegan Penne Rosa

  • Author: Erin Collins
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 2-4 servings


This is a totally delicious dairy-free pasta dish! The mushrooms also give this pasta great flavor so you won’t miss the meat. However you can add chicken or shrimp if you like. I’ve also made this with my favorite gluten-free gnocchi in place of the pasta and it’s amazing!



  1. Cook the gluten-free penne in salted water according to package instructions while you make the sauce.
  2. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, followed by the shallot and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 5-7 minutes until soft. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, pinch of red pepper flakes, marinara, diced tomatoes and cashew milk. Cook for 5 minutes until heated through and combined.
  3. Add the spinach (it will look like a lot at first but will wilt down!) and cook, stirring until wilted, about 5 minutes more. Add the cooked penne, dairy-free parmesan, and salt/ pepper to taste. Toss to combine adding more dairy-free parmesan if needed. Serve and enjoy!
20-Minute Vegan Penne Rosa! Easy and so flavorful you'd never guess it's dairy-free! (Gluten-Free)