Tempeh Marinara with Whole Grain Pasta
1 block soy tempeh (I use soy since the pasta will be the grain)
4 portions whole grain spaghetti or capellini
several dashes soy sauce
3 cloves garlic: 2 crushed, 1 finely diced, sliced, or put through a garlic press
1 small onion or 1/2 medium onion
10-12 mixed, good quality olives (kalamata, oil cured, etc), sliced lengthwise
1 large can organic whole tomatoes (or crushed if you like)
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup organic yellow cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon ground chili pepper
salt & fresh cracked pepper to taste
1 tablespoons dried Fines Herbes (optional)
2 teaspoons olive oil for sautéing
canola or safflower oil for shallow frying
Prep the Tempeh: Fill saucepan with enough water to cover 1/3 of the tempeh block (vertically), then dash in the soy sauce to taste. Crush two cloves of garlic, and put them in the pan. Then slice a ¼ of the onion and place that in the pan. Bring to a simmer, and then place the tempeh block in the pan. Cover and simmer as long as you like; it’s best to do this for at least 20 minutes (10 minutes per side), or as long as you can let it go. This really makes the tempeh tender, and also flavors it. Make sure to flip the tempeh occasionally so both sides are tender.
Prep the Marinara: Heat a sauté pan over medium heat, and pour in the olive oil. Dice the rest of the onion. Then add the onions and a dash of salt, and sauté for about 5 minutes. Once they are translucent, add in the garlic and another dash of salt and sauté for another 2 minutes. Then add in the whole tomatoes, crushing them with your fingers as you add them. Then add the oregano, crushing it between your fingers as you add it to release the flavor. Finally, add the olives. Let the sauce simmer while everything else cooks.
Cook the Pasta: In a large stockpot, bring 6 cups of water to a boil, add a dash of salt to the water, and cook the pasta until al-dente.
Finish the Tempeh: Once you have finished simmering the tempeh, remove it from the liquid and place it on a cutting board to cool. Place a cotton, lint-free towel or paper towel under the tempeh to drain some of the liquid. While it cools, combine the cornmeal, ground chili pepper, Fines Herbes, and salt & fresh cracked pepper to taste. I add a lot of cracked pepper! Heat the canola or safflower oil over medium-high heat in a skillet. Once the tempeh has cooled slightly, slice it into ¼ - 1/3 in strips. Dredge it in the cornmeal mixture, and fry in the oil until light, golden brown. Remove from the oil and place on a paper towel to drain.
Assemble the Meal: Place the noodles in the center of a plate. Place the tempeh strips around the edges of the noodles, and top with the marinara.
This sounds very involved I think, but it’s really easy. You can cook the marinara and simmer the tempeh for a good while before you’re ready to serve. Just wait until right before serving to boil the noodles and fry the tempeh. I love this with sauteed greens!