Tempeh bolognese

Tempeh bolognese

  • 4


  • Prep Time

    Prep Time 10'

  • Total Time

    Total Time 30′

  • Plant-based


  • 4


  • Prep Time

    Prep Time 10'

  • Total Time

    Total Time 30'

  • Plant-based



The best thing about spag bol, that longtime British classic? It’s not alone food. Spag bol is one to eat with a crowd of people. Maybe they are your children and your partner. Maybe it’s a gathering of extended family. Or perhaps you’re making a big pot for assorted friends coming to your table from all over for comfort food, invigorating conversation, and above all, warmth. Most importantly, whoever you are cooking for, spag bol tells them you are truly happy to have them around your table – no more, no less. Good spag bol is delicious, but it’s not food you cook to impress anyone. And that’s another thing we love about it.

Your spag bol…

Firstly, our favourite spag bol makers each have their own distinct recipes, perfected over years and years. The recipes are important and intriguing, but we think the stories are better. That busy owner of a Moroccan yoga retreat and surf hostel? Spag bol is what she cooks on her very rare days off, to feed up all the people she enjoys but that she’s too busy to see on other days. Moreover, she would be annoyed if she was able to cook it quickly and efficiently. In other words, it’s the slow cooking of the bolognese bit over the course of a day that she loves, the simmering and the gradual seasoning, the tasting, the slow chopping up. It’s that, and the glasses of really good red poured for the cook and her spectators towards the end of preparation.

The spag bol itself tastes different each time. She and her children are the ones who notice because they are the constants at a revolving table. And they enjoy each and every variation.        

Or how about the Provencal bed-and-breakfast owner? Currently furnishing her new property, she’s receiving deliveries of furniture all day long, wrestling antique tables and wardrobes into the back to be repainted. In this chaos and the indolent heat of southern France, melon and salad are food enough in the summertime. That is, unless it’s the spag bol she sometimes cooks for her guests, no matter what season it is. Gluten-free pasta, topped with a bolognese recipe courtesy of her Italian grandmother. They don’t do measuring cups in Provence, but the pinch of this and the bigger pinch of that is kept to pretty faithfully. 

… and Erbology vegan bolognese recipe

We love those stories. We love that energy. But what if you’re vegan? And that is the story of this recipe. The texture of the tempeh mean that this vegan bolognese recipe has a similar bulk to it as a meat-based version. Further, tempeh is not as absorbent as some other plant-based meat substitutes, such as tofu. That quality helps tempeh work well in this dish too. You don’t want something saturated and soggy in spag bol. The rest of the recipe is very much a traditional spag bol sauce. You probably have your own personal spag bol. Bring it into this one and make it yours as well as Erbology’s.

But being an Erbology-style vegan is not only about substituting animal products for plant-based ones. It’s about eating fresh and light. About looking to whole foods for flavour and energy, even when cooking traditional recipes like bolognese. And so, although the basic recipe is similar because you don’t tinker too much with the classics. we couldn’t resist adding a few bells and whistles.


Tempeh bolognese recipe

Serve it up with…

The thing about pasta is that it can easily become too heavy, no matter which type you use. What better remedy than fresh, raw vegetables? Courgette is often cooked into bolognese. So it is true to the origins of this dish. However, spiralising raw courgette to stand in the place of pasta mean in that very first mouthful, you have both warm comfort and the pure energy that only raw plants bring.     

We couldn’t resist a sprinkling of nutritional yeast too. Plant-based cheeses can be delicious, but didn’t seem right for this dish. However, a bit of flavour, fun and crunch was needed. Finally, serving up with a side of Erbology Personalised Crackers instead of the usual bread mean that, as a whole, the dish is much lighter and much more interesting for the taste buds. The familiarity of the tempeh bolognese and its gentle textures allow the crackers to stand out in all ways. 

What tempeh does for you

Naturally (a word that is suitable in more than one way here…), we want to tell you a bit about how good this vegan bolognese recipe is for you! Your gut microbiome loves tempeh. Because it is fermented, you may think that tempeh contains probiotics, or good gut bacteria that help your digestion. However, most tempeh that you can buy is pasteurised, so heat from the process may have done away with much of the bacteria. Even if the tempeh isn’t pasteurised, cooking it will do the same. The good news is that tempeh does contain prebiotics, or fibre that feeds the bacteria already in your gut and helps it to multiply. 

Additionally, you may not know that tempeh provides more protein than most other soy products. This is because it is so dense. Tempeh is also a good plant-based source of calcium. According to My Food Data, it contains about two-thirds the amount of calcium found in milk.

Moreover, research into soy isoflavones, specific plant-based compounds found in soy, have turned up some interesting insights. For instance, a meta-analysis looking at 11 trials suggested that isoflavones reduced LDL cholesterol.(1) Further, these isoflavones also exhibit antioxidant activity. Antioxidants can work to lower oxidative stress. If left unchecked, oxidative stress can lead to any number of highly harmful chronic illnesses including heart disease, cancer, and high blood pressure. But the isoflavones in tempeh appear to provide even more antioxidant activity than other soy products can offer up.(2) 

For us here at Erbology, this vegan tempeh recipe is a perfect example of how making small but significant transitions into a plant-based diet can boost health and wellbeing over the long term. You don’t have to be a vegan, or even a vegetarian, to experience this metamorphosis. 


5 4


1 tbsp olive oil 1 small onion, diced ¼ tsp chilli flakes 2 cups tempeh, crumbled 1 tsp tomato paste 3 cups crushed tomatoes 10-12 fresh thyme leaves 1 tsp muscovado sugar 1 bay leaf 2 garlic cloves, minced Salt and pepper to taste   For serving  2 small courgettes, spiralised Fresh greens for plating 3-4 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 cups tempeh, crumbled
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 3 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 10-12 fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp muscovado sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
For serving 
  • 2 small courgettes, spiralised
  • Fresh greens for plating
  • 3-4 tsp nutritional yeast

Typical nutrition / serving

  • Serving size: 249g
  • Energy: 241kcal
  • Protein: 18.6g
  • Fat: 12.7g
  • Carbohydrate: 17.8g

Here's how you make it

  1. Heat a pan on medium heat. Once hot, add olive oil, onion and chilli flakes and sauté until the onion becomes soft.
  2. Add crumbled tempeh and cook for 1-2 minutes. 
  3. Add tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, thyme leaves, muscovado sugar, bay leaf, garlic, salt and pepper and cook for about 10 minutes on low to medium heat. 
  4. Once done, leave aside and spiralise the raw courgettes. 
  5. To plate the dish, add fresh greens on the side of the plate, make a nest of the spiralised courgettes and add the bolognese in the middle.
  6. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast on top.
  7. Enjoy with Erbology Personalised Crackers.

If you tried this recipe...

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