Tomatoes, red wine and lots of spices are simmered with veggies and crumbled tempeh in a zesty vegan ragù that’s served over pasta and topped with crunchy panko breadcrumbs.
Apparently this week is all about tomatoes, in their various forms. I guess it makes sense, with tomato season approaching, but in fact, this one doesn’t really make much sense at all, if you think about it.
I grew up in a house where pasta with tomato sauce was a frequent and favorite dinner, especially in the summer months. The reason for this being so nonsensical? Well, the tomatoes came out of a can. They were just as good in the winter. Nonetheless, I associate hot summer afternoons with the smell of tomato sauce simmering away on the stove.
Meat sauce was not a big thing with my family, for which I’m grateful, because I probably wouldn’t have been into it. Regular old marinara was our favorite. So I had to learn all about meat sauce after I gave up meat completely and stated a vegan blog. Now that makes perfect sense.
This actually isn’t even my first vegan take on vegan meat sauce. Last year I tried this version with lentils in place of meat, which I dubbed “Bolognese.” I got the itch the other day to try a tempeh version. I’m calling this one a ragù, just because I wanted to name it something different from my earlier version. I have no idea if my terminology is accurate here, so feel free to call them whatever you like.
I went heavy on the spices here, all Italian-centric, and lots of which you might normally find in a sausage recipe. I loved how the flavor came out, and this stuff was super hearty to boot. This was one of those pasta nights where the sauce made up more of the meal’s bulk than the pasta. In other words, the best kind.
Spaghetti with Tempeh Vegan Ragù and Toasted Panko
- 8 oz. dried spaghetti
For the Toasted Panko
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
For the Tempeh Ragù
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 celery stalks finely chopped
- 2 carrots finely chopped
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1-8 oz. package tempeh
- 2 tsp. dried basil
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp. anise seeds
- 1/2 tsp. paprika
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1-14 oz. can diced tomatoes
- 1-6 oz. can tomato paste
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1/2 cup unflavored soy or almond milk
- 2 tsp. granulated sugar
- chopped parsley for serving (optional)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook according to package directions. Drain into a colander. Return to pot and toss with a few dashes of olive oil.
Prepare the Toasted Panko
Coat a medium skillet with oil and place over medium-high heat. Add panko and cook, flipping occasionally, until lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from skillet and transfer to a plate.
Prepare the Tempeh Ragù
Place olive oil in a large saucepan and place over medium heat. Add celery, carrots, onion and garlic. Sauté until onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Crumble tempeh into skillet and continue to sauté until browned, about 5 minutes more.
Add basil, oregano, thyme, anise, paprika, black pepper, salt, tomatoes, tomato paste and red wine. Stir to incorporate and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes, until alcohol has cooked off, adding a few splashes of water if mixture becomes too dry.
Stir in milk and sugar. Simmer another minute. Remove from heat.
Divide pasta onto plates and top with tempeh ragù, toasted panko and parsley, if using. Serve.