Tempeh with Quick Homemade Tomato Sauce and Olives

  • Active Time 30m
  • Total Time 30m

Serves 2 or 3

What makes this stew quick and good is the tempeh, which contributes long-simmered heartiness in record time. The shoyu gives the sauce an earthy color and deep, rich taste. When I serve this dish on its own, I like to cut the tempeh into "fingers" about one-third inch wide. If I'm planning to ladle the stew over spaghetti, I prefer to halve the tempeh horizontally and cut it into one-inch squares. However you plan to serve it, don't omit the final browning of the tempeh, which seals in flavor and enhances texture and looks.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 cup diced fennel or celery
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • About 1 tablespoon shoyu
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons drained capers (optional)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried leaf oregano
  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8 ounces tempeh, preferably soy, cut into fingers or squares (see introduction)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, for garnish


In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the garlic, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Stir in the onion and fennel and sauté for 1 minute more, stirring frequently. Add the water and blend in the tomato paste and shoyu. Add the capers (if using), seasonings, tempeh, and olives, and bring to a boil. Cook uncovered over medium heat at a gentle boil, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer the sauce uncovered as you brown the tempeh.

With a slotted spoon, remove the tempeh from the sauce (let surplus sauce drip from the tempeh and brush away any bits of vegetable), and transfer it to a large nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat. Brown the tempeh on all sides, turning frequently with tongs or a spatula to avoid burning. (I have not found the need to use oil during this browning stage, but add a bit if you are experiencing sticking).

Taste, and add more shoyu to the sauce, if necessary. If serving the tempeh as fingers, set them on a plate and spoon the sauce on top. Alternatively, ladle over spaghetti. Garnish each serving with parsley.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Chronicle. All rights reserved.

RecID 1534

nutrition information per serving

338 calories; 17g total fat; 0mg cholesterol; 509mg sodium; 34g carbohydrates; 10g fiber; 18g protein

These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

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