The Cheesecake Factory is a fancy restaurant that has really delicious (and really high-fat) food. When I was in college, I went on a lot of dates there. I quickly learned that my favorite thing to order was the Spicy Chipotle Chicken Pasta. It’s composed of penne pasta, chicken, asparagus, peppers, peas, cilantro, and sauce made of heavy cream and parmesan cheese. I was remembering that dish and took on the challenge of re-creating it. The most common-sense solution would be a cashew sauce, which is super creamy and delicious. However, with so many tree nut allergies and people I know who want lower-fat recipes, I made a LOW-FAT and whole food plant based version that can even be gluten-free. Even though I ditched the chicken all together, it’s even fairly high in protein with legume pasta and all the peas. Most of all, it’s SO YUMMY!
I personally love chipotle and all things spicy. However, you can use very little chipotle sauce here to make it just have the subtlest chipotle flavor without it being hot. Start with 1/2 a tablespoon and add another half to taste. I like two tablespoons for a little kick.
The air-fried tortilla strips on top make it extra authentic to the restaurant version and add a wonderful crunch. I just cut up some corn tortillas (which are made of just corn and water) and air-fry them for about 3-4 minutes, until golden and crispy. Overall it comes together fairly quickly for such a fancy dish. My husband wants me to make this once a week now. With all those veggies in there, why not?
Let me know what you think!
A low-fat and whole food plant-based version of the Spicy Chicken Chipotle Pasta from Cheesecake Factory. Nut-free and gluten-free.
- 1 lb penne pasta (any kind, I used a green lentil penne)
- 1 bunch asparagus
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 TBSP lemon juice
- 3 TBSP honey
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1-2 TBSP sauce from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
- 1.5 cups soy milk*
- 2 TBSP cornstarch
- 3 TBSP tahini
- 1 cup frozen peas
- cilantro, chopped
- tortilla chips (or air-fried corn tortilla strips)
- vegan parmesan cheese (such as those made from cashews or almond flour)
Boil a pot of water for the pasta, but blanche the asparagus first. Once boiling, add the asparagus and cook it for about 2 minutes, until bright green and crisp-tender. Remove with a slotted spoon into a colander and rinse with cold water.
Boil the pasta 1 minute shy of package directions. Drain in the colander over the asparagus.
While the pasta is cooking, in a large skillet, saute onions and peppers with a splash of water until onions are translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook another minute. Turn off heat.
Meanwhile, blend all the sauce ingredients together in a blender.
Turn the heat of the skillet back on to medium, and pour the sauce over the onions and peppers. Cook and stir until sauce has thickened. Add the pasta and asparagus and stir all together. Stir in the frozen peas.
Top with crushed tortilla chips and torn cilantro. Sprinkle with vegan parmesan cheese if desired (I make some with almond flour, nutritional yeast, salt, garlic powder).
*For a creamier sauce, use 3/4 cup cashews and 1.5 cups water and OMIT the soy milk, cornstarch and tahini. Blend with the other sauce ingredients until completely smooth, then follow the directions as written.