Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tempeh Lasagne

Tempeh, you either love it or hate it! For me, it's the latter the majority of the time but I'm starting to learn ways that I can appreciate it. The first few times I tried tempeh at home, it was in chunks that had been marinated and then baked or fried. Even after following tips and steaming the tempeh prior to marinating, I still found that these chunks had an unpleasant taste that the marinade didn't disguise.

Cindy from Where's the Beef tentatively pointed me in the direction of her tempeh lasagne recipe recently as I haven't been totally satisfied with any of my previous vegan lasagne attempts to date. I was delighted to find that the tempeh in this recipe was cut into tiny mince-sized pieces and I was particularly interested in trying the cashew cream sauce.    

A few adjustments were made to bulk up the tempeh sauce portion as Cindy mentioned that the lasagne could have used more of this. Some eggplant was added to the tempeh sauce as there was some around that needed using up. I also made my own lasagne sheets using a mixture of semolina and wholemeal flour.

The lasagne turned out to be really delicious and full of flavour. My son is not that keen on tempeh either but he really liked this meal. The man adored it and everyone was keen to have a share in the leftovers. I found that a few bites here and there still had a hint of the tempeh taste I'm not fond of. This was totally my fault as I increased the amount of tempeh in the recipe but didn't change the amount of soy sauce and liquid smoke that the tempeh needs to soak up. That is the only thing I would change next time around and there will be a next time because this lasagne is now our favourite!

I would love to hear about more tasty tempeh recipes. Let me know if you have any favourite recipes that use little bits of tempeh.  

Tempeh Lasagne (Adapted from Where's the Beef)

Pasta dough (or skip this step and use pre-made sheets)

3/4 cup plain wholemeal flour
3/4 cup semolina flour
pinch of sea salt
1/3 - 1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons olive oil

Place the flours into a bowl with a pinch of salt, mix together thoroughly and make a well in the centre. Pour the water and olive oil into the well and work the flour into the water slowly until a slightly wet dough has formed. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and rest for 30 minutes.

Tempeh Sauce

3 tablespoons olive oil
300g tempeh, chopped into tiny pieces
2 tablespoons soy sauce (will add an extra tablespoon next time)
1 teaspoon liquid smoke (will add an extra 1/2 teaspoon next time)
250g eggplant, chopped into 2cm cubes
2 onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 x 400g tin diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
pepper, to taste

Heat a tablespoon of the olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the tempeh, stirring often, for about 10 minutes or until the pieces are browned. Add the soy sauce and liquid smoke and fry until the sauces have totally been absorbed by the tempeh. Remove from the saucepan and set aside.

Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the saucepan and cook the eggplant for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until the eggplant is soft and golden. Remove from the saucepan and set aside.

Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and cook the onion and garlic for 10 minutes, until the onions are very soft. Add the tinned tomatoes, eggplant, dried basil, chilli flakes, salt and pepper and simmer while you are making the cashew cream sauce. Stir the tempeh through the sauce just prior to assembling the lasagne.

Cashew Cream Sauce

1 cup cashews
1 litre oat milk
3 tablespoons dairy-free margarine
1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper

Place the cashews in a blender with 1/2 cup of oat milk and process until it becomes a smooth paste.

Melt the dairy free margarine in a saucepan then stir the flour through. Cook, stirring for a few minutes until the mixture browns a little. Add the rest of the oat milk, slowly at first, whisking through the mixture to ensure that no lumps remain.

Bring the mix to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes or until the mixture becomes thick. Add in the cashew cream/oat milk paste and nutritional yeast flakes then stir until combined. Simmer for another 5 minutes, turn off the heat and add the lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Lasagne Assembly

Use a pasta machine or rolling pin to roll out thin sheets of pasta. Cut the pasta to measure the width of your baking tray.

Spread enough cashew cream sauce to cover the bottom of your baking dish. Add a layer of lasagne sheets, then spread a 1/3 of the tempeh sauce followed by enough cashew cream to cover the sauce. Repeat the layering another 2 times, finishing with a layer of cashew cream. Bake in the oven at 200C for 30 minutes until the top layer has browned.


  1. The tempeh sauce sounds perfect in lasgne! I feel so-so about tempeh, but always love a new reason to give it another go--lasagne sounds perfect (especially since I have sheets of the pre-made stuff in the pantry)!

  2. What a wonderful recipe - given I'm still new to tempeh this looks like a safe way for me to try it somewhat differently.

  3. that's a win win to find a recipe that is a good tempeh and lasagne recipe - I have been meaning to try a tempeh lasagne after seeing a few about but still haven't - I find that if I fry tempeh with a good marinade until crispy that I love it and even used it in matthew's delicious tofu recently when we were out of tempeh - hope this sets you on a great tempeh loving path!

  4. Yay, I'm glad this return to tempeh paid off! I was a little nervous in suggesting it to you. :-)

  5. this is a regular in our household too, like you suggested just require some tweaking but is quite delicious when done.

  6. Yum, that looks delicious! I really, really miss eating tempeh, I loved it. For people who dislike it I always check that they're steaming/boiling it for 10 minutes before using? And then I suggest the wingz from here and the hot sauce glazed tempeh from V'Con and I also love tempeh on a burger with satay/peanut sauce.

  7. Jes, I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one who struggles with tempeh. Sounds like we are both persevering with though!

    Kari, it is a great recipe. It suits my taste much more than fried or baked chunks of tempeh.

    Johanna, it was great to have another tempeh win but I am still hesitant about a lot of tempeh recipes I come across. I'll keep the Matthew's delicious tofu recipe in mind for the future.

    Thanks so much for the suggestion Cindy! :D I had briefly looked at your recipe before but didn't really notice that the tempeh was cut so small. It makes me happy to find a tempeh recipe that I like because I have tried to stomach quite a few dishes that I really didn't enjoy.

    K, I totally agree that it's a delicious recipe. It will become a semi regular thing at our house too.

    Mandee, I always steam tempeh before using it although it still seems to have a strong taste regardless. Thanks for the recipe tips, I'll give the wingz and glazed tempeh a try one day but will probably need to cut the pieces smaller than the recipes state.

  8. I've only tried tempeh once and I couldn't stomach it :( I have never had such a reaction to food soooo I'm putting it down to me being a complete newbie when it comes to tempeh (and preparing it). I had sliced it very thin and marinated it then seared it as I do firm tofu (which I love) but boy oh boy it was horrible! I just have to work up the courage to defrost the tempeh in my freezer and give it all another go, with steaming it beforehand.

    Love this blog, I've just started reading tonight and glad to see others aren't too keen on tempeh!

    1. I never thought I would like tempeh at all but I didn't want to write it off until I had explored using it in different ways! The first time I tried tempeh at home, the recipe used big chunks which the marinade didn't have any effect on penetrating whatsoever. I'm still a bit hesitant with tempeh but I have found a few recipes where I really enjoy it. This lasagne is very popular at home, I've made it a few times now. I also enjoyed tempeh burgers from Vegan Dad's blog.

      Thanks for your lovely comment! I hope you can find ways to appreciate tempeh one day too...