Vegan Piccata made with Tempeh is a great dish to serve on date night or for a dinner party, but it’s easy enough for weeknights, too. In this recipe, breaded tempeh is simmered in a tangy lemon and wine sauce along with garlic, shallots, and capers. It's vegan with a gluten-free option.
What is Piccata?
Piccata is a wonderful thing. There’s something magical that happens when you combine white wine, lemon juice, and capers. I love to make cauliflower piccata, seitan piccata, and of course, tempeh piccata.
Piccata is an Italian word that means “annoyed,” but when used in reference to food, it means “sliced, sautéed, and served in a sauce containing lemon, butter, and spices”.
Traditionally, piccata dishes are made with breaded meat that is fried in butter or oil. The pan drippings are then combined with lemon juice, white wine, and stock. Shallots, garlic, capers, and chopped parsley can be added.
When eating out at vegan restaurants, if there’s something picatta on the menu, it’s usually first choice. Blossom in New York City is famous for their seitan piccata, and it definitely lives up the hype.
I’ve often ordered seitan scallopini from restaurants too, because it seems very piccata-like. I was curious, so I looked it up to see what the difference is. “Scallopini” refers to the thin cut of meat (or seitan), while piccata refers to the cooking method or the sauce.
What you Need
- Unsweetened non-dairy milk
- Dijon mustard
- Whole wheat flour
- Nutritional yeast
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
- Vegetable oil
- White wine
- Lemon juice
- Fresh parsley
See the recipe card for exact amounts.
What is Tempeh?
Tempeh is a fermented soybean cake that originated in Indonesia. Because it’s fermented, it can have discolored spots that almost look moldy. It’s perfectly safe to eat, though. It can usually be found in the same area of the grocery store as tofu, which is usually the produce are or the refrigerated section. I usually buy Lightlife's tempeh.
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.
How to Make Vegan Tempeh Piccata
This recipe is easy to make!
- First you cut the tempeh into 3 square (or square-ish) pieces. Cut each of those pieces into two triangles.
- Then you whisk together the non-dairy milk and Dijon mustard in a small bowl.
- Next you whisk together the flour, cornmeal, nutritional yeast, sea salt, and pepper in another small bowl.
- First you dip the tempeh pieces into the non-dairy milk mixture and then you dredge them through the flour mixture. (I like to use one hand for the wet ingredients and the other for the dry.)
- Now you heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.
- You add the tempeh to the pan and cook until the pieces are golden-brown, about 5 minutes. Flip the pieces and cook the other side until golden-brown as well, another 3 to 5 minutes.
- You remove them from the tempeh from the pan and keep them warm in an oven set to low or on a covered plate.
- Now you add the rest of the oil to the pan along with the shallots. Cook them, stirring frequently, until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Scrape down any of the breading mixture that might be left in the pan for extra flavor. Next add the garlic and cook another minute or two until it’s fragrant.
- You now add the wine, lemon juice, and capers to the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Cook everything for about 5 minutes, or until the liquid reduces slightly. Add the cornstarch mixture to the pan, and continue to cook until the liquid thickens, about 2 or 3 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat.
- To serve your tempeh piccata, arrange the tempeh pieces on two plates, and top them with the lemon-wine sauce. Garnish with the parsley.
If you don’t like the fermented flavor of tempeh, steam it for a few minutes before breading it. You can also let it simmer for 20-30 minutes in vegetable stock.
If you follow a gluten-free diet, this dish can easily be made gluten-free by using all-purpose gluten-free flour. Read the tempeh package to make sure it doesn’t contain gluten. I usually buy the “original” type of tempeh, which is just made with soy beans. Some of the varieties made with grains might contain some gluten, though.
If you don’t want to use wine in your dish, you can use vegetable stock in its place.
How to Serve Your Vegan Piccata
Stealing from Blossom, I like to serve my Tempeh Piccata with mashed potatoes and sautéed greens. It also goes well with pasta or rice—or any whole grain, really. It can be served with broccoli, cauliflower, or any other veggie that strikes your fancy.
Vegan Tempeh Piccata
- 1 8-ounce package tempeh
- ¼ cup unsweetened, plain non-dairy milk
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup whole wheat flour (use all-purpose gluten-free flour, if gluten-free)
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons neutral-flavored vegetable oil divided
- 2 medium shallots thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic thinly sliced
- ¾ cup white wine
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons capers drained
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch, dissolved in 3 tablespoons warm water
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
- Cut the tempeh into 3 square (or square-ish) pieces. Cut each piece into two triangles.
- Whisk together the non-dairy milk and Dijon mustard in a small bowl.
- Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, nutritional yeast, sea salt, and pepper in another small bowl.
- Use one hand for the wet ingredients and the other for the dry. Dip the tempeh pieces into the non-dairy milk mixture and then dredge them through the flour mixture.
- Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.
- Add the tempeh to the pan and cook until golden-brown, about 5 minutes. Flip the pieces and cook the other side until golden-brown as well.
- Remove them from the tempeh from the pan and keep warm in an oven set to low or on a covered plate.
- Add the rest of the oil to the pan along with the shallots. Cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to brown and caramelize, about 5 minutes. Scrape down any of the breading mixture that might be left in the pan for extra flavor. Add the garlic, and cook another minute or two until it’s fragrant.
- Add the wine, lemon juice, and capers to the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the liquid reduces slightly. Add the cornstarch mixture to the pan, and continue to cook until the liquid thickens, about 2 or 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Arrange the tempeh on two plates, and top with the lemon-wine sauce. Garnish with parsley and serve hot.
More Piccata style dishes include:
- Chickpea Piccata from The Plant Protein Revolution Cookbook by Robin Robertson
- Roasted Cauliflower Piccata from Veganize It! by Robin Robertson
More Tempeh Recipes You Might Like Include
- Tempeh Marsala
- Lemon Dijon Tempeh and Mushrooms
- Tempeh Bourguignon from Protein from Plants by Heather Nicholds
- Tempeh Cacciatore