Make your next pasta night extra special with this dairy-free and vegan Cajun pasta recipe topped with panko-crusted tempeh. If you’ve never cooked tempeh before, you’re in for a treat. In this recipe, the tempeh is marinated and coated in panko breadcrumbs to make it crispy and tender.
This Cajun pasta sauce is made with vegan chicken broth, vegan cream cheese, and non-dairy milk. As a result, the pasta has a thick, cheese-like texture similar to that of traditional Cajun pasta, which is made with parmesan cheese. You can serve this dish with pepper and parsley for a delicious, comforting vegan meal.
What is tempeh?
Tempeh is a highly nutritious fermented food that is made with soybeans. To make tempeh, the process involves fermenting cooked soybeans and then forming the mixture into a firm, dense cake. Tempeh is considered a great source of plant-based protein as it has 31 grams per cup.
You can cook tempeh in many different ways including grilling, baking, or steaming. When marinated with a flavorful sauce or mixture, tempeh truly shines as the star protein on any plate. Its ability to absorb and complement the flavors it is paired with makes it a popular choice among vegans and non-vegans. Not only can you add tempeh to pasta dishes but also stir fry, soups, sandwiches, and even tacos.
Ingredients you’ll need
- Red wine vinegar
- Yellow mustard
- Lemon juiced
- Garlic salt
- Panko bread crumbs
- Cajun seasoning
- Olive oil
- Penne pasta
- Vegan butter
- Red pepper flakes
- Tomato paste
- Cajun seasoning
- Broth (vegan chicken broth)
- Unsweetened non-dairy milk
- Vegan cream cheese
Is cajun pasta sauce vegan?
Generally, cajun pasta sauce is not vegan as it is made with heavy cream and parmesan cheese. Instead of using dairy, we are swapping heavy cream for unsweetened plant-based milk and adding vegan cream cheese to add richness and creaminess.
Traditionally, Cajun seasoning is vegan and made with white pepper, cayenne pepper, onion powder, paprika, garlic powder, and black pepper. If buying a pre-packaged seasoning, check the label for any non-vegan ingredients.
How to make cajun pasta vegan
First, place the pot on the stove and melt the vegan butter over medium heat. Add the shallot, garlic, rosemary & red pepper flakes. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Once cooked, add the tomato paste and cajun seasoning and cook for an additional minute. Next, mix in the broth, non-dairy milk & vegan cream cheese. Whisk until combined and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer.
Add the pasta to the sauce with a handful of parsley and pepper. Finally, stir until the pasta finishes cooking and the sauce has thickened about 3-5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
How to marinate and cook tempeh to make it delicious
For this recipe, the marinade is made with tahini, vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, oregano, garlic salt & pepper. Stir ingredients in a bowl and add water as needed to thin out the marinade. Once the marinade is fully combined, toss to coat the tempeh in a bowl.
Tempeh tastes best when marinated for at least 30 minutes. However, if time permits, let the tempeh mariante overnight.
Once the tempeh is done marinating, combine the panko and cajun seasoning in a shallow bowl. Next, Coat the tempeh pieces in the panko being sure to remove most of the tahini from each piece. Transfer to a plate.
To cook the tempeh, heat some olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Lastly, add the tempeh and cook until browned on both sides – being careful when flipping and lowering the heat if needed.
Substitutions to make this recipe gluten-free
- Use gluten-free panko breadcrumbs
- Swap penne for gluten-free penne
Why we love this recipe creator
This recipe was made by Rene also known as This Savory Vegan. We love her easy vegan recipes that feed your entire family and keep your meals interesting. If you love tempeh after enjoying this recipe, Rene has a list of vegan recipes that call for tempeh and look delicious.
For the Tempeh
- 8 oz tempeh
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp yellow mustard
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp garlic salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/4 cup water, as needed
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 tsp cajun seasoning
- olive oil
For the Pasta
- 3/4 lb pasta, penne
- 2 tbsp vegan butter
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
- 1 sprig rosemary, finely diced
- red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp cajun seasoning
- 1/2 cup broth
- 1 cup non-dairy milk, unsweeteened
- 4 oz vegan cream cheese
- pepper, to taste
- parsley, chopped
- Combine the tahini, vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, oregano, garlic salt & pepper in a bowl. Stir to combine and add water as needed to thin. Add the tempeh to the bowl and toss to coat. Marinate for 30 minutes.
- Combine the panko and cajun seasoning in a shallow bowl. Coat the tempeh pieces in the panko being sure to remove most of the tahini from each piece.*** Transfer to a plate.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta and drain 2 minutes earlier than the instructions call for.
- Place the pot back on the stove and melt the vegan butter over medium heat. Add the shallot, garlic, rosemary & red pepper flakes and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the tomato paste and cajun seasoning and cook for an additional minute. Add the broth, non-dairy milk & vegan cream cheese. Whisk until combined and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer while you prepare the tempeh.
- Heat some olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the tempeh and cook until browned on both sides – being careful when flipping and lowering heat if needed. Turn heat to low, while you finish the pasta.
- Add the pasta to the sauce with a handful of parsley and pepper. Stir until the pasta finishes cooking and the sauce has thickened about 3-5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. To serve, plate the pasta with tempeh pieces, parsley and pepper.
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