Tempeh and Kale Pasta features a soybean protein source cooked with kale and tossed with pasta for a super healthy vegetarian meal. Article includes some Amazon affiliate links for some of the products that could be hard to find in some grocery stores.
This Tempeh and Kale Pasta recipes is inspired by the various combinations of pasta, greens and sausage I make frequently, such as this Orzo with Turkey Sausage and Kale. I like to incorporate a few meatless meals into our weekly dinner plans, so finding new ways to serve vegetarian protein sources like tempeh is always of interest.
What is tempeh?
Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans. But in the case of tempeh, cooked soybeans are fermented with a mold. OK, this might not sounds super appealing right off the bat, but give tempeh a chance! Tempeh comes in a fairly thin, rectangular shape, and is firmer to the bite than tofu. It has an earthy flavor, has more taste of its own than plain tofu. As this article on tofu and tempeh notes, tempeh has substantially more protein and fiber than tofu. Here’s an Amazon link to where you can order a case of tempeh if you’d like to get some that way.
Tempeh and Kale Pasta
I had great success using tempeh as the protein source in this delicious “meatless meat sauce“, which made me think to try using it in place of sausage in a pasta recipe. So I started the tempeh and kale pasta by sautéing some onions and peppers, then added kale to braise along with some tomatoes. Halfway through braising the greens, I added the tempeh. As the kale cooks along with the tempeh and veggies, cook up some pasta to toss with the tempeh and kale. I used rigatoni; other short shapes like ziti or elbows would work well here, too.
I added some good quality Parmesan cheese while cooking the kale and tempeh. You could skip the cheese to make this dish a vegan recipe; or use something like Go Veggie Parmesan Style Topping. My son can’t eat dairy, and we have found that to be a good product to use for pasta dishes. The olives also add good flavor for the dish; you could add a few more olives if not using the cheese.
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
- ½ colored bell pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bunch kale, thick stems removed and coarsely chopped
- 1 pack of tempeh, cut into ½ inch cubes
- ½ cup good parmesan, divided
- 6 olives, sliced
- 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (or use two fresh tomatoes, diced, if you have them)
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar.
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 12 ozs rigatoni or other short pasta shape
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add the onion, and sauté for 5 minutes.
- Add the bell pepper, cook for 3 more minutes. Add the garlic, cook for 1 more minute.
- Gradually stir the kale into the skillet. It will start cooking down enough to add more kale.
- Add the tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and red pepper flakes to the skillet. Stir to combine.
- Bring tomatoes to a simmer, then cover skillet.
- Begin cooking pasta according to package instructions as the kale and tomatoes cook.
- After the kale has cooked for 10 minutes, stir the tempeh into the skillet with the kale, along with ¼ cup parmesan cheese. Cover and continue to cook for about 10 more minutes.
- When the pasta is done cooking, drain it. Toss immediately with the remaining tablespoon olive oil and tempeh/kale mixture.
- Stir in the remaining cheese and the olives. Plate and serve. Enjoy!