Wednesday, October 28, 2009

October 28, 2009: Spicy tempeh and broccolini pasta

A couple of weekends ago, Michael and I wandered down Nicholson St and ran into Maria's Pasta Shop. Vaguely remembering some positive blog reviews, we picked out some frozen pasta packages for future meals. The eggplant and roasted capsicum ravioli made its way into this slight adaptation of Isa Chandra Moskowitz's spicy tempeh and broccoli rabe with rotelle. While the recipe's rotelle isn't a filled pasta, I can highly recommend the complexity and comfort that ravioli add to this dish. In particular, Maria's pasta is the most enjoyable store-bought ravioli I've eaten - it actually tastes of roasted capsicum!

Otherwise the dish has an Italian sausage theme, featuring tempeh chunks cooked in a spicy tomato broth - they've a strong yet pleasant aftertaste of fennel seeds. I don't know that I've come across Isa's preferred broccoli rabe, and after some internet browsing came to the conclusion that broccolini would make an adequate, if different, substitute. And even though I overcooked those greens, this was one fine meal. Michael loved it, and ended up torn between eating seconds and saving leftovers for lunch (he managed to do both).

My one difficulty with this recipe was that it demanded the tempeh, greens and pasta be cooked in separate pots. It made for a messy, busy kitchen and I didn't schedule things well. Next round, I'll be experimenting with cooking the tempeh and green veges in a single pan while the pasta bubbles in the background.

(Vegans beware: The ravioli we used on this night isn't vegan, though I believe some of Maria's other products might be. I've appended the vegan or vegan-friendly tag because this recipe is likely to do brilliantly using any number of other pastas.)

Spicy tempeh and broccolini pasta
(based on spicy tempeh and broccoli rabe with rotelle in Veganomicon)

600g tempeh, diced
1 cup stock
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons tomato paste
10 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons fennel seeds
2 teaspoons chilli flakes
2 teaspoons oregano
4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
2 small bunches broccolini, chopped coarsely
500g pasta
salt and pepper

Place the tempeh in a large frypan over medium heat. Whisk together the stock, soy sauce, tomato paste, 2 of the garlic cloves, the fennel seeds, chilli flakes, and oregano. Pour the mixture over the tempeh, stir it through, and allow the tempeh to cook for 8-10 minutes. Isa recommends covering the frypan during this time, but I found that I had too much liquid left at the end - instead I'd suggest allowing some of the liquid to evaporate away by cooking the tempeh uncovered.

When most of the liquid is gone and the tempeh is tender, transfer the tempeh to a bowl and smush it briefly with a wooden spoon, so that it's half cubes and half mush. Give the frypan a quick clean and heat up about 2 tablespoons of oil in it. Drop the tempeh back in, stir-frying it for 4-5 minutes, until it begins to brown. Sprinkle over a teaspoon of the balsamic vinegar.

Bring a pot of water to the boil and cook the pasta until tender (time required will vary a lot amongst types).

In another frypan, heat the remaining oil and add the remaining garlic, cooking it for just a minute or two. Add the broccolini, toss them around to coat them in oil, and sprinkle over a little salt. Sprinkle over the remaining balsamic vinegar. Cook the broccolini for 5-8 minutes, until it's just tender and still bright green (I overcooked ours).

Drain the pasta and gently toss everything together in the dry pot. Season to taste and serve.


  1. Hi, I'm glad that my review for Maria's Pasta (check out correct URL here inspired your visit! Apparently Shannon Bennett from Vue de Monde is also a fan.

    I will definitely be trying the eggplant and roasted capsicum ravioli next time and your recipe looks really unique.

    Jetsetting Joyce

  2. I was told about this recipe last week and decided I would just use broccoli or broccolini.

    It's been so, so long since I've had ravioli and after looking at this meal, I am hungry!

  3. this sounds good - I have been using my gluten sausages in pasta over the last week and love the idea of tempeh as an easier addition - and I love ravioli especially when the filling is a little different to the usual cheese fillings

  4. Thanks, JJ! I guess I'm still subscribed to your old domain.

    It's a tasty mix, Mandee! Have you had much success with gluten free pastas?

    Johanna, tempeh is certainly an easier option when there aren't ready-made sausages in the freezer (there rarely are at our place!).