Executive Chef Jorge Esparza, Spirit Elephant and elephant+vine

-Spirit Elephant

924 Green Bay Rd., Winnetka, IL 60093

-Elephant & Vine

2315 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago

719 Church St., Evanston



Check Out:

Spirit Elephant, as well as its sister concept elephant+vine in Lincoln Park and Evanston, will be celebrating World Vegan Day on Wednesday, November 1st with 10% of sales to benefit the New Roots Institute, a nonprofit created to help create a more sustainable and just food system through education.


Penne Alla Vodka (Plant-Based)

Serves 4


1 tsp Basil, fresh

¼ cup Oven Roasted Tomatoes (recipe below)

4 cups Penne Rigate 

1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper

¼ cup Olive Oil

2 tsp EVOO

¼ cup Vegan Parmesan Cheese of choice

2 cups Tomato Cream Sauce (recipe below)

½ cup Spinach, fresh

1 cup Roasted Mushrooms & Onions (recipe below) 

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

2 tbsp Olive Oil

1/8th tsp Oregano, Dry

1/8th tsp Sugar, Cane

Salt + Pepper to taste

½ cup Heirloom Tomatoes, chopped

Roasted Mushrooms

2 tbsp Olive Oil

Salt + Pepper to taste

1 ½ cup Mushrooms

1 cup Onions

½ cup Vodka

Tomato Sauce 

¾ cup Yellow Onion, chopped 

1 tsp EVOO

Salt + Pepper to taste 

¼ tbsp Cane Sugar

⅓ cup Garlic Cloves, minced

⅛ tsp Oregano, dry

2 cup White Wine, Dry

28 ounce Canned Tomatoes, Peeled

Cream Sauce

2 tbsp Olive Oil

1 ¼ cup Onion, Yellow

4 Garlic Cloves, minced 

4 cup Vegetable Stock

1 ½ cup White Wine, Dry

2 tbsp All Purpose Flour

Salt + Pepper to taste

4 cup Oat Milk

½ cup Cashews, unsalted 


  1. Soak cashews in boiling water for 20 minutes and blend in a food processor or blender until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Roasting tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place canned tomatoes on a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil and spices. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes while preparing sauces.
  3. Prepare tomato sauce. Sauté onion in oil until translucent. Add garlic and sauté for 5 minutes. Deglaze with wine and remaining spices. Add the can of tomatoes and let the sauce simmer for 8-10 minutes. 
  4. Prepare cream sauce. Sauté onion in oil until translucent. Add garlic and sauté for 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan with white wine and reduce until syrup consistency. Once reduced, add flour and cook for 5-7 minutes. Add vegetable broth, blended cashews and remaining ingredients. 
  5. In a separate pan, sauté mushrooms and onions in olive oil with salt and pepper until onions are caramelized. Deglaze the pan with vodka. Add red pepper flakes for spice (optional). 
  6. Cook penne pasta according to package directions.
  7. Build penne with prepared sauces and remaining ingredients. Combine tomatoes and cream sauce into cooked penne. Stir in half of vegan parmesan cheese, half of basil, mushrooms and onions and fresh spinach. Garnish with roasted tomatoes and remaining basil and parmesan. Drizzle with olive oil.