Serves 4 • Vegan • Gluten-Free
Why This Recipe Works: Made from whole fermented soybeans and a mix of grains, tempeh has a firmer, chewier texture than tofu, but it is just as good at soaking up flavor. Looking for an easy but impressive tempeh recipe, we gave it a similar treatment to steak. Marinating the tempeh in a highly seasoned base infused it with flavor, then patting the tempeh dry and pan-searing it created a crispy edge and made the texture more cohesive. Next, we wanted to balance the tempeh’s earthy flavor by serving it with a bright herb sauce. Chimichurri sauce is a traditional condiment for steak that combines parsley, wine vinegar, oil, lots of garlic, oregano, and a good dose of red pepper flakes. It paired perfectly with our tempeh, lending bright flavor and richness to the seared “steaks.”
In order for this recipe to be gluten-free, you must use gluten-free tempeh.
1/4 cup water
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound tempeh, cut into 3 1/2‑inch-long by 3/8‑inch-thick slabs
1 cup fresh parsley leaves
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1. Combine water, 1/4 cup vinegar, half of garlic, 1 teaspoon oregano, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper flakes in 1‑gallon zipper-lock bag. Add tempeh, press out air, seal, and toss to coat. Refrigerate tempeh for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours, flipping bag occasionally.
2. Pulse parsley, 1/2 cup oil, remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar, remaining garlic, remaining 1 teaspoon oregano, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in food processor until coarsely chopped, about 10 pulses. Transfer to bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Remove tempeh from marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in 12‑inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add 4 pieces tempeh and cook until golden brown on first side, 2 to 4 minutes.
4. Flip tempeh, reduce heat to medium-low, and continue to cook until golden brown on second side, 2 to 4 minutes; transfer to platter. Wipe out skillet with paper towels and repeat with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and remaining tempeh. Serve with parsley sauce.
VARIATION: Pan-Seared Tempeh Steaks with Chermoula Sauce
Serves 4 • Vegan • Gluten-Free
Omit oregano. Substitute lemon juice for red wine vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne for red pepper flakes, and cilantro for parsley. Add 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin and 1/2 teaspoon paprika to tempeh marinade. Add 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin and 1/2 teaspoon paprika to sauce.
Cutting Tempeh Into Slabs
1. Cut each piece crosswise into two 3 1/2-inch-long pieces.
2. Next cut each piece horizontally into 3/8‑inch-thick slabs.
Getting to Know Tempeh
While tofu has hit the mainstream, tempeh might not be as familiar. Tempeh is made by fermenting cooked soybeans, then forming the mixture into a firm, dense cake. Some versions also contain beans, grains, and flavorings. It serves as a good meat substitute and is a mainstay of many vegetarian diets—it’s particularly popular in Southeast Asia. It has a strong nutty flavor, but it also will absorb flavors easily. And because it’s better than tofu at holding its shape when cooked, it’s a versatile choice for many dishes from sandwiches and tacos to curry.
It’s also a healthy choice, since it’s high in protein, cholesterol-free, and low in fat and contains many essential vitamins and minerals. Tempeh is sold in most supermarkets and can be found with different grain and flavoring combinations. We use five-grain tempeh in our recipes, but any plain variety will work. If you are gluten-free, be sure to look for a gluten-free brand of tempeh.
➜ View more kitchen-tested vegetarian recipes