This hearty bolognese sauce is a plant based take on the Italian classic that pairs wonderfully with jacket potatoes, lasagne, pasta and more! Made with a base of tempeh and mushrooms to get that meat like consistency, this vegan Tempeh Bolognese is another opportunity to still enjoy one of your favourite meals whilst making the choice to eat meat free.
What is tempeh?
Have you heard of tempeh before? If not, you won’t be alone as until recently tempeh has been a somewhat under the radar source of plant based protein (think of it as tofu’s lesser known family member). But with more of us turning to a plant based diet it is picking up traction and becoming more widely available.
Tempeh is a fermented soy product, naturally high in protein, prebiotics and a wide array of vitamins and minerals. It is a bit of a powerhouse of a protein source that has a lot of great health benefits.
Originating from Indonesia, tempeh has a dry and firm texture that is chewy with a slightly nutty flavour. It can be steamed, sauteed or baked but tends to need to be marinated before use, because as like tofu it is pretty flavourless without additional ingredients.
Where to buy tempeh?
With tempeh becoming an ever more popular source of plant based protein, it is becoming more widely available. All major UK supermarkets now stock varieties of it as well as health food shops, with many options available direct from the brands online.
My go to varieties are either Tofoo, Tiba Tempeh or Plant Power. Tofoo is widely available in UK supermarkets but the other two are available direct online or in health food shops like Holland & Barratt.
In all cases, tempeh is a refrigerated product so have a look in the chilled aisles, it’s usually next to or close to the tofu.
What You are Going to Need to Make This Vegan Tempeh Bolognese
Tempeh: have a look at the section above to get all of the details on what tempeh is and where to find it. Just pick a gluten free option if you are wanting to make this recipe free from gluten
Chestnut Mushrooms: whilst chestnut mushrooms tend to work best, closed cup mushrooms will also work if that is what you have handy. The mushrooms just help give a different flavour dimension to the dish and offer that mince like texture
Herbs and Spices: adding a sprinkle of chilli flakes to the dish at the end really helps spice up this dish. However, feel free to leave out if you aren’t a fan of spicy. The oregano also works with the vegetables to bring out their flavour. The longer you leave these working their magic (within reason) the more benefit you’ll get from them in the dish
Tinned Tomatoes : the quality of tinned tomatoes can vary greatly. Some of the cheaper varieties have water added to them to dilute the flavour. So it is always worth checking the packet and picking the best you can afford. Brands I generally cook with are Mr Organic or Mutti as I find these varieties really deliver that intense tomato flavour to the dish
Marmite: also known as yeast extract gives the dish the unami flavour that makes you feel satisfied when eating something. You can also add a tsp of miso paste in addition or swap for miso paste entirely if that is what you have available
Pasta: everyone has their favourite type of pasta. Personally I love tagliatelle with bolognese or pappardelle but the crucial part is this dish can be made gluten free if you pick a gluten free type pasta.
- Parmigiana: layer between sauteed aubergine slices and top with vegan cheese. This creates a protein rich version of the eggplant parmigiana
- Fajitas: accompany the bolognese sauce with lettuce, tomatoes, japaleno peppers, natural yoghurt and a sprinkle of vegan cheese to create a version of a fajita
- Jacket potatoes: serve the bolognese sauce with a spoonful of natural yoghurt for a hearty alternative
- Lasagne: layer the bolognese sauce between pasta sheets and a white sauce to make a delicious lasagne
Freezing Your Vegan Tempeh Bolognese
This keeps well in the fridge for a few days. However, you will find it actually gets better if you eat it the day after making, it is also freezable.
Why not make a double batch and freeze the leftovers. A hack to avoid waste is to keep leftover yoghurt pots or margarine tubs which are then perfect one person freezable containers.
Vegan Tempeh BologneseCourse: MainsCuisine: Savoury, Comfort FoodDifficulty: Easy
This easy vegan bolognese sauce is made with tempeh and mushrooms to give that mince like consistency. Simple to make, this hearty dish pairs perfectly with pasta, jacket potatoes, lasagna and more!
2 Red onions, peeled and quartered
2 Medium carrots, washed and chopped into chunks
2 Celery sticks, chopped into chunks
250g Chestnut mushrooms, brushed
6 Garlic cloves, peeled
1 Can chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp Tomato puree
1 tbsp Oregano
1 Vegetable stock cube
1 tbsp Olive oil
2 tsp Marmite
Pasta of your choice
- Add the celery, garlic, carrot and onion to a food processor and pulse until you get a finely chopped consistency
- Heat a large pan on a medium – high heat with a tbsp of olive oil and add the veggies from the food processor to the pan. Cook for 8 – 10 minutes until they start to softened
- Meanwhile, add the mushrooms to the food processor and pulse until you get the same consistency
- Add the mushrooms to the pan once the other vegetables have softened and stir to combine. Cook the celery, garlic, carrot, onion and mushroom mixture for a further 5 minutes until everything is soft and starting to caramelise. Stir throughout to avoid anything burning.
- Add the tempeh block to the food processor and blitz until you get a mince like consistency
- To the existing pan add the minced tempeh, stir to combine and cook for a further 5 minutes
- After this time add to the pan the oregano, tomato puree, chopped tomatoes, crumbled vegetable stock cube and Marmite. Stir well, bring to the boil and then leave to simmer for 20 – 25 minutes on a low heat. If at any point the sauce becomes too thick, add a few splashes of water to loosen
- Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper as necessary
- Meanwhile cook your pasta according to packet instructions
- Once everything is cooked, serve the pasta with the sauce and top with a sprinkle of chilli flakes (if you like extra heat), vegan cheese or even toasted breadcrumbs
- This bolognese tastes even better the following day if you leave it to sit in the fridge overnight
I can’t wait to hear what you think of these Vegan Tempeh Bolognese so please leave a comment below and tag me in your wonderful creations! I’m @fortheutteroffood on Instagram and use the hashtag #theutterloveoffood. I’m also on Facebook – please say hello!