This cozy vegetarian dish is the perfect comforting meal to keep warm on those cold days. A vegan twist on the classic beef bolognese sauce, this recipe is made with a block of tempeh which will be crumbled up to resemble the texture of ground beef.
What is tempeh?
Tempeh is a soy product like tofu except the soybeans are fermented through a process that gives its texture and binds the soybeans together. You can find tempeh in the vegetarian section of most grocery stores in individually shrink wrapped squares.
Tempeh actually provides more protein than its more popular counterpart, tofu. Per 100 grams, tempeh provides 18 grams of protein, vs tofu’s 8 grams.
Tempeh has a slightly nutty taste and is denser than tofu. Due to this, it can be used in many ways and is super versatile. You can cut it into blocks to marinate and bake it, or crumble it up and use it in place of ground meat like in this bolognese sauce.
Ingredients in Vegan Tempeh Bolognese
- Pasta noodles: I love using rigatoni noodles for thicker sauces with ingredients that have lots of texture- like this recipe. Penne, fettuccini, or thick ribbon pasta would work well. Whatever you prefer really!
- Broccoli & grape tomatoes: I love broccoli in pasta sauce. Cut the florets into small bite-sized pieces and dice some of the broccoli stem to add to the sauce. The stem actually contains a lot of nutrients and using it helps to reduce food waste! Cherry or grape tomatoes add a nice variation in texture here. Feel free to change up the veggies you use!
- 1 package of tempeh: Crumble up the block of tempeh to resemble the texture of ground beef. I like to break off small chunks then crumble them using my hands to get small pea-sizes pieces.
- Tomato sauce: I made a simple tomato basil sauce by simmering 1/2 a diced yellow onion, fresh garlic, salt & pepper, a 28oz can of peeled roma tomatoes, a sprig of fresh basil and a little water. One trick to cut the acidity is to add a few carrot sticks to the pot while it cooks, then remove and discard the carrots after. Feel free to use
your favourite jarred tomato sauce here! Use a little extra if you like more sauce.
Serve with fresh grated parmesan, red pepper flakes and fresh basil. Enjoy!
Vegan Tempeh Bolognese
- 12 oz rigatoni noodles, uncooked
- Drizzle olive oil
- 1 medium head broccoli with some of it's stem, chopped into bite sized pieces (about 2 heaping cups)
- 1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1/2 cup diced yellow onion (about 1/2 a medium onion)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 block tempeh, crumbled into pea-sized pieces
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup water
- 28oz tomato sauce (I made a tomato basil sauce, or free free to use your favourite store bought)
- Optional: fresh grated parmesean (not vegan), fresh basil, red chili flakes to top
- Start by cooking your pasta to al dente according to package directions. Drain, drizzle with a little oil to prevent sticking, set aside.
- In a medium pot bring the tomato sauce to a simmer on the stovetop over medium-low heat while you prepare the tempeh.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil. Once hot, add the diced onion and saute for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, basil, salt & pepper and crumbled tempeh, saute for about 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and carefully add the 1/2 cup of water (It will steam and absorb the water to soften the tempeh). Stir the tempeh mixture into the tomato sauce.
- Using the same hot pan, add another drizzle of olive oil and saute the broccoli and grape tomatoes for 5-8 minutes until softened. Add the veggies into the tomato sauce. Simmer for 3-5 minutes until your veggies are softened to your liking.
- In a large serving bowl, add the cooked pasta and mix in a bit of the sauce. Reserve some sauce to spoon over each portion just before eating. Serve with freshly shaved parmesan, basil, red chili flakes etc. Enjoy!