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Tempeh Ragu with Polenta: a dish to be shared

Taking inspiration from the polenta dishes of Abruzzo, this recipe uses unconventional tempeh as a red meat substitute. Instead of separate servings, polenta is often served al tavolo on a large wooden board. A perfect hearty dish to be shared among friends or family.

Of course tempeh isn’t an Italian ingredient, but it does replicate an intense rich meatiness. If you haven’t tried tempeh, maybe get to know it first. You don't want to be going on a blind date with this ingredient! It is nothing like tofu (though also made with soybeans) tempeh is a very different type of soy as it is fermented, and in turn, has an unusual flavour. If you're not keen on tempeh, don't be shy adapting this recipe - there's plenty of alternatives. See below for meaty substitutes.

Tempeh substitutions:

You can easily replace tempeh with cooked brown lentils, diced mushrooms (or a combo of both), walnut ragu or your favourite plant-based mince.


Serves 2 large / 4 medium | 35 minutes


Tempeh ragu

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 onion, finely diced

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed

  • 1 medium carrot, finely diced

  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced

  • 300g tempeh

  • ½ cup vegan dry red wine

  • 1 tablespoon ‘beef ’ style or vegetable stock powder

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 1 ½ cups canned diced tomatoes or passata

  • ½ teaspoon salt


  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup quick cooking polenta

  • 2 heaped tablespoons vegan butter or margarine

  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes

  • cracked black pepper chopped parsley to garnish


Tempeh ragu

  1. In a large frypan or pot, heat the oil and fry the onion until softened. Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute, being careful not to brown.

  2. Add the carrot and celery and sauté for a few minutes. Crumble in the tempeh. Cook for approximately 3 minutes, stirring often. You may need to add a splash of water or oil to prevent from burning.

  3. Pour in the wine and allow to reduce completely. Stir through the stock, paste, tomatoes and salt. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often. If the ragu becomes too dry, add a dash more diced tomatoes or water.

  4. Remove from the heat and keep warm while you make the polenta.


  1. In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to the boil. Add the salt.

  2. Pour polenta in a slow steady stream into the water, whisking briskly as you pour. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for approximately 5 minutes, or according to your polenta package instructions. Stir occasionally to prevent from sticking. Remove from heat and stir through the butter, yeast flakes and pepper.

  3. Spread polenta onto a chopping board or alternatively onto individual plate, then ladle over the tempeh ragu. Garnish with parsley.

Serve individually or share on a large wooden board

331 views2 comments


Made this for dinner last night--super delicious! Added a little fresh basil from the garden and it was soooo good :)

Replying to

Fresh herbs are a wonderful idea - especially basil. I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe! 😍

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