Hunter Fieri brings plant-based swaps to Flavortown, interview

Hunter Fieri for ZENB, photo provide by ZENB
Hunter Fieri for ZENB, photo provide by ZENB /

Having embraced his role as Prince of Flavortown, Hunter Fieri understands that big flavors satisfy. While he might have been exposed to the restaurant world at an early age, Fieri appreciates that his path does not have to be in the shadows of others. With his latest partnership with ZENB, Fieri is ready to cook up a dish with a taste of the familiar yet gives everyone an appreciation for what plants can do.

Recently, FoodSided spoke to Hunter Fieri about his partnership with ZENB and his short documentary on “What Plants Can Do.” While many people have learned to appreciate that swapping recipe ingredients for plant based options can be part of a balanced lifestyle, many people are craving familiar flavors and dishes. Even if the logical choice makes sense, people are drawn to food for an emotional connection.

While Fieri admitted that he inherited his passion for cooking and food from his father, that yearning to explore food and flavor happens both in and out of the kitchen. Even though his family might be known for the extravagant, over the top dishes that epitomize Flavortown, Fieri appreciates that those items do not have to be the only food on the table.

For Fieri, the ZENB  is an easy swap because it the plant-based food still has the taste and texture of a traditional pasta. If a food satisfies, cooks are more willing to experiment first and then make a permanent change.

As part of this partnership, Fieri shares a recipe for Cajun Chicken Pasta with Roasted Bell Pepper Sauce. This recipe captures that idea of familiar yet forward thinking.

Fieri explained that his starting point was a traditional spicy dish that he loves. From there, the experimentation and willingness to push the plant-based boundaries to see what is possible. He believes that this type of creativity is what makes cooking always engaging.

Here’s how to make Cajun Chicken Pasta with Roasted Bell Pepper Sauce by Hunter Fieri.


  • 1 box (12 ounces) ZENB Penne Pasta made from 100% Yellow Peas
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons oil-packed Calabrian chile peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1-1/2 ounces prosciutto, chopped (about 3 slices)
  • 1-1/2 pounds chicken tenders, trimmed6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 box (15.5 ounces) ZENB Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1-1/2 cups quartered multi-color cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup sliced scallion

Blackening Spice

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion
  • 3/4teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook ZENB Pasta as directed. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water; drain pasta and keep warm.
  • Meanwhile, add 1 teaspoon oil, Calabrian chiles, and prosciutto to cast iron pan on medium heat. Cook 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently until crispy. Transfer to clean plate.
  • Heat remaining oil in same pan on medium-high heat. Combine blackening spice ingredients in small bowl. Coat chicken liberally with blackening spice.
  • Add chicken to pan. Sear both sides of the chicken for about 2-3 minutes on each side until done. Transfer chicken to a sheet tray and set aside.
  • Reduce heat to medium. Add garlic to pan and sauté just until fragrant. Add white wine to deglaze; cook until mostly evaporated. Stir in ZENB Sauce and cook until simmering.
  • Add pasta, reserved pasta water and half of the Parmesan. Toss pasta gently until well combined
  • Plate and garnish with chicken, tomatoes, scallions, crispy prosciutto mixture and remaining Parmesan. Top with additional cracked pepper before serving

How it Hunter Fieri highlighting the benefits of what plants can do?

In some ways, that concept is at the heart of his documentary, “What Plants Can Do.” Fieri believes that his generation is more willing to experiment with food and flavors. As seen in the short movie, ZENB explores how its yellow pea plant based pasta is more than just a substitute. From nutrition to flavor to ease of use, all of those aspects contribute to why the green box is replacing other options in the pantry.

Fieri explained that he likes to keep things fun in the kitchen. He believes that when people are engaged, they are more willing to experiment with food and flavors. His recipe is an example of that belief.

In addition, Fieri said wants people to focus on the types of cuisine, flavor or food that they like. Home cooking doesn’t have to be overwhelming. The idea is to find some tried and true options and build on them.

Whether or not a home cook creates a Triple G winning dish or just a plate that wows the table, the reality is that plants, specifically plant based pasta, can be part of that food enjoyment. Isn’t it time for you to see what plants can do?