An old childhood favorite gets a vegan makeover in this Tempeh Cacciatore recipe! Full of mushrooms, onions, peppers, and tomato sauce, Tempeh Cacciatore is the perfect dish to get you out of a dinner rut.
Chicken cacciatore was a favorite meal of mine growing up. Not only did I find the dish tasty, I also loved saying “cacciatore.” Say it a few times – it’s fun! Cacciatore. Cacciatore. Cacciatore.
To be honest, I don’t remember too much about the dish. My mom didn’t cook from scratch, so I’m positive it was made with Ragu’s jarred cacciatore sauce. I doubt it was served with pasta, as my mom thought spaghetti looked like worms and didn’t cook it often. (And apparently there weren’t any other pasta shapes available in the 70s?) I’m guessing it was served with boxed mashed potatoes and frozen mixed vegetables on the side.
As a vegetarian adult, I found myself a hankering for cacciatore, but I wasn’t sure how to make it. With such a fancy name, I thought it would take a lot of time and be really complicated, but it actually isn’t. It’s made with onions, peppers, mushrooms, and a tomato sauce. What could be easier than that?
I usually like to make cacciatore with chickpeas, but recently I found myself craving something a little heartier. I had thought about making it with tofu, which I’m sure would be delicious, but the tempeh in my fridge caught my eye. I knew the tempeh would soak up the sauce nicely. A dinner plan was hatched.
I’ve had people tell me that they don’t like tempeh because of it’s fermented flavor. I don’t mind it, but I could see how it could bother some. To get rid of that taste, you can steam the tempeh before using it a recipe, or you can simmer it a bath of water or broth for about half an hour. Doing so will also open the tempeh up, so it absorbs the flavors of the sauce it’s cooked in better.
I like to serve this Tempeh Cacciatore with whole wheat linguine, but it also pairs well with mashed potatoes and brown rice. This is a great dish for dinner parties and date nights, but it’s also wonderful for anytime you’re craving pasta and want something a little different that the usual tomato sauce.
- 2 8- ounce packages tempeh
- 3/4 cup vegetable stock, divided
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon black pepper, divided
- 1 teaspoons neutral flavored oil
- 1/2 onion, diced (about half a cup)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- red bell pepper, diced
- green bell pepper, diced
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms
- 28- ounce can crushed tomatoes
- ½ cup red wine
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
- 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil, chopped
- 8 ounces pasta, cooked according to package instructions, for serving, optional
Slice the tempeh in half so you have two square-ish pieces. Then carefully slice each of those squares in half through the thinnest side, kind of like slicing a roll or bagel.
Heat a large pan over medium high heat and add a little of the stock, along with the tempeh slices. Sprinkle the slices with about ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
As the tempeh cooks, it will absorb the stock. You can continue to add more stock to the pan to keep it from sticking, a few tablespoons at a time, using up to 1/4 cup, if you like.
When the tempeh beings to brown, flip the slices and sprinkle the other side with another ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. The tempeh will be ready when it’s golden brown and a little crispy on both sides.
Remove the tempeh from the pan and set aside.
Add the vegetable oil to the same pan along with the onion. Cook until the onion becomes fragrant and translucent, about five minutes. Add the garlic, peppers, and mushrooms to the pan and continue to cook until they’re tender, about 5-10 minutes.
Add the crushed tomatoes, ½ cup stock, wine, oregano, thyme, rosemary and remaining salt and pepper to the pan. Turn down the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the liquid has begun to reduce
Return the tempeh to the pan, and simmer for another 10-15 minutes, until the tempeh is heated throughout.
Garnish with the fresh basil and serve hot with pasta, if desired.