A classic Italian combination – sausage, bitter green veggies and pasta – gets a vegan makeover with a spicy, homemade tempeh sausage. Toss it with whole grain pasta, sauteed mushrooms and baby broccoli for a comforting healthy meal.
Tempeh is kind of a mystery, isn’t it? Most of my clients have never heard of it, and those who have, still don’t have a clue what it is. Myself, I’ve eaten it regularly for years, but I’m still not even sure I’m pronouncing it correctly. Tem-pay or tem-pee? I just don’t even know.
When I introduce tempeh to a client, it’s always a bit awkward because I know my description isn’t gonna sell it. Tempeh is made by culturing and fermenting whole soybeans and then pressing them into a cake. The result is a firm, yet tender and crumbly patty with a texture similar to a veggie burger. Not necessarily tempting, right? Just stay with me on this one.
Being fermented, and hopefully you’re aware of the general awesomeness of fermented foods, tempeh is more nutritious than tofu. The fermentation process breaks down phytic acid, a nutrient found in soy, beans and grains that can partially block the absorption of some nutrients, especially minerals. This means many of the vitamins and minerals are more easily utilized by the body. Also, because tempeh is made with the whole soybean, it has a higher fiber and protein content.
Other health benefits: tempeh is an excellent source of manganese, copper, phosphorus, vitamin B12, and magnesium. It contains many phytonutrients including flavonoids, phenols, and phytosterols. If consumed uncooked, you’ll also get a nice dose of beneficial probiotics.
Tempeh can be intimidating. Soybeans fermented with bacteria and pressed into a cake? Umm, yeah no. Yet, I actually think tempeh is the perfect soy food to convert meat lovers. It’s crumbly texture perfectly mimics ground meat in dishes like tacos, chili and in this flavorful pasta dish.
The combination of sausage, greens and pasta is a classic one in Italian cuisine and one of my favorites. I was pretty amazed at how well the tempeh mimicked the spicy, salty flavors and texture of tempeh. I’ve made tempeh sausage before, but inspired by a recipe from Delicious Knowledge, I decided to marinate the tempeh first in a mixture of soy sauce and vegetable broth. This infuses it with umami flavors that take it to another level.
Feel free to switch this recipe up with different vegetables, based on what you have on hand or what’s in season. Roasted red peppers, broccoli rabe, cauliflower, kale and other bitter greens would all work well. To save time, skip the olive oil-parsley sauce and use a couple tablespoons of pesto instead. I made this gluten free with quinoa pasta, my favorite of the gluten free pastas.
- Tempeh Sausage:
- 8 ounces tempeh, crumbled
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 teaspoons fennel seed, lightly crushed
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon fresh, minced sage or ¼ teaspoon dried
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- Other Ingredients:
- 8 ounces whole grain fusilli or other pasta
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 8 ounces baby broccoli or broccolini
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup parsley, chopped
- In a medium bowl, combine tempeh, broth and soy sauce. Let marinade 30-60 minutes.
- When ready to cook, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion and a pinch of salt and saute 5 minutes until tender. Drain tempeh and add to to skillet along with the fennel, basil, oregano, sage, red pepper flakes, garlic, onion powder, salt and pepper to taste. Saute until well browned, about 7-10 minutes.
- While tempeh is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until tender. Drain and set aside in a large serving bowl.
- After tempeh is cooked, remove and set aside in a large serving bowl. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the same skillet on medium-high heat. Add broccoli, mushrooms, salt and pepper. After a few minutes, add a couple tablespoons of water to help the vegetables steam. Cook a total of 7-10 minutes until mushrooms have released their liquid and baby broccoli is tender. Remove from skillet and set aside in the same pan as the tempeh sausage.
- Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet along with the garlic. When it starts to sizzle, add the parsley and stir quickly. Scrape the parsley oil sauce into the serving bowl with the pasta and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Love this recipe? Check out these other healthy pasta recipes: