Pasta with Tempeh Olive Capers
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Spaghetti with Olive, Caper, and Tempeh Tomato Sauce


By Katie Morford, MS, RD

    • 1 tablespoon soybean oil
    • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
    • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 8 ounces tempeh
    • One 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, such as San Marzano
    • 3 tablespoons capers, chopped
    • ⅓ cup briny green olive or kalamata olives, chopped
    • ½ cup roughly chopped fresh basil, plus more to garnish
    • 1 pound spaghetti
    • ⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions for Spaghetti with Olive, Caper, and Tempeh Tomato Sauce

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the onion and sauté until tender and translucent (turn down heat if it starts to brown), about 7 minutes. Turn the heat to medium and add the garlic, tomato paste, pepper flakes, and salt. Stir to blend. Use your hands to break the tempeh into crumbles as you add it to the pan. Stir the tempeh into the other ingredients and sauté for about 2 minutes to infuse the tempeh with flavor.
  2. Add the tomatoes, capers, olives, and basil to the pan. Adjust the heat so the liquid simmers. Simmer the sauce until it thickens slightly and the flavors really come together, 20 minutes.
  3. Set a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain well and add the spaghetti back to the pot or a big serving bowl. Add most of the pasta sauce and stir well. Add more sauce, if desired. Taste and add more salt or chili flakes, as needed.
  4. Serve spaghetti in shallow bowls with freshly chopped fresh basil and grated Parmesan over the top.
  5. Store leftover sauce in the fridge for up to 5 days or the freezer for up to 3 months.
Notes: Consider this pasta a plant-based alternative to spaghetti bolognese. It has the same stick-to-your ribs quality, with a whole lot of good nutrition to boot. The tempeh gets crumbled right into the sauce, which simmers until thick and lip-smackingly flavorful. Smother the sauce over hot pasta and finish with a light shower of Parmesan cheese. Delicious!