This Vegan Cajun Pasta with Panko Tempeh is comfort in a bowl. Creamy pasta, crunchy tempeh and the perfect amount of spice - a must make!
This pasta is EVERYTHING! The pasta alone is delish, but the addition of the panko tempeh takes it to a whole other level. Let me say that this recipe does require a few extra steps than my recipes normally call for, but it is so worth it! Trust me, this is worth the time!
How to make the panko tempeh
This isn't your standard panko tempeh. It is layered with flavor from the inside out. I don't even know what made me think of marinating the tempeh this way, but I'm so glad I did.
I decided to take one of my favorite tahini dressings and use it as the marinade. This dressing is creamy, tangy and sooooooo tasty! It gives the tempeh so much flavor! Add all of the marinade ingredients together in a bowl and coat the tempeh in it - marinate for 30 minutes.
When you are ready to bread the tempeh, combine the panko and some cajun seasoning in a bowl. Now, there is a trick to breading these - you need to wipe off MOST of the tahini marinade before putting the tempeh in the panko. You just want a thin layer. This means you will have A LOT of the tahini marinade leftover, which you can use to make more tempeh another day or use it as a salad dressing!
Set the breaded tempeh aside and prepare the pasta.
How to make the vegan cajun pasta
First, you need to cook your pasta. Be sure to drain it 2 minutes before the package instructions call for - it will finish cooking in the sauce.
Place the empty pot back on the stove and add the vegan butter, shallot, garlic and rosemary. Things will start smelling good. Add the tomato paste & cajun seasoning. Lastly, add the broth, non-dairy milk and vegan cream cheese. It's going to look super watery, but trust me, it will come together. Let the sauce simmer and finish preparing the tempeh.
Bring everything together
Add some olive oil to a pan and let it get super hot. Add the tempeh and brown on both sides - being sure to flip carefully. It should take about 3 minutes per side. Leave the tempeh on low heat and finish the pasta.
Add the cooked pasta to the sauce with some parsley and pepper and stir it through until the sauce has thickened and the pasta is finished cooking. It should take 3-5 minutes. Give it one last taste and serve it up.
How to serve Vegan Cajun Pasta with Panko Tempeh
Plate the pasta with a few slices of tempeh and top it all off with more parsley & pepper. Now get ready to dig in.
This is the ultimate plate of food. It is beyond comforting and one of my favorite pasta dishes EVER!
This is best served right away since the pasta will continue to absorb the sauce as it sits. If you do have leftovers, reheat the pasta with a splash of non-dairy milk and/or vegan butter to loosen it up.
Need more recipe inspo? Check these out:
Vegan Cajun Pasta with Panko Tempeh
FOR THE TEMPEH
- 8 oz tempeh cut in 16 pieces*
- ½ cup tahini
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp yellow mustard
- ½ lemon juiced
- 1 tsp oregano
- ½ tsp garlic salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- water as needed - I used ¼ cup
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- ½ tsp cajun seasoning
- olive oil
FOR THE PASTA
- ¾ lb pasta I used 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
- ½ cup broth**
- 1 cup non-dairy milk unsweetened
- 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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