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You Won't Miss The Meat In This Spicy Tempeh 'Sausage' Rotini

It's my new favourite comfort food.

I'm slowly making my way through the list of requests my readers sent in and I have to say thank you again because it has been inspiring some major creativity and new ideas in the kitchen. This Spicy Italian "Sausage" Pasta hits two birds with one stone with the ask for more dinner recipes and more plant-based protein options!

Growing up, my mom used to always make us her famous Spicy Italian Sausage Penne Pasta, inspired by the Bread Garden and man, was it good! To this day, it's still one of the family favourites in the rotation when we all go home to visit. There's just something so comforting about a warm bowl of pasta, and of course, the table full of good conversation and family love doesn't hurt either.

While I do still love my mom's original recipe, I've been playing around a lot with tempeh lately and got the idea to try substituting the sausage for a meat-free version. It's taken a couple of tries to get it just right but I think I've found the winning combo!

I just got to Hawaii yesterday (woohoo!) to visit my sister and they've been trying out a more plant-based diet, so I'm really excited to make this for them and see if it passes the three-year-old test...

I love tempeh as a plant-based protein substitute because it's also a great source of fibre and it's got the gut-healthy benefits of probiotics. It's pretty much a win win win win win.

This one's definitely going to be on repeat this fall and winter in our house. It's super easy to throw together, so enjoy it for a Sunday dinner or treat yourself any night of the week!

I know this recipe looks a lot longer than what I usually share but the steps really are quite simple so don't be intimidated by that! Most are just different spices.

Time-saving tip: Use your favorite store-bought tomato sauce instead of making your own.

If you try it out, I'd love to hear what you think of it! Let me know if the tempeh "sausage" passes the test. Follow me on Instagram and tag me in your creations so I can see what you're up to! I'll also be sharing my Hawaiian adventure over there for the next two weeks, if you're interested in seeing what we're getting up to!

Serves 3-4


  • 1 1/2 cups dry rotini or penne noodles (Note: I always find it confusing when pasta is listed in grams so I find this method much easier! This will cook up to approximately three cups cooked pasta so if you'd like bigger servings, increase accordingly!)

Spicy Tempeh "Sausage"

  • 1 x 200 g package of tempeh
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 tbsp Italian spice blend
  • 1 tsp fennel, ground
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. chili peppers (flakes), dried (adjust or omit if you don't like spice)
  • ⅛ tsp pepper
  • ¼ cup soy sauce

Sauce (or replace for your favorite store-bought sauce)

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 10 plum tomatoes, cut into eight pieces each (quartered and then halved again)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ of a medium red onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups water
  • Coarse salt and freshly-cracked pepper to taste (approx ⅛ tsp each and increase to taste)
  • ¼ cup fresh basil


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Combine all tempeh sausage ingredients (except tempeh) into a small bowl. Whisk together with a fork and set aside.
  3. Cut your block of tempeh into four strips, lengthwise. Next, on a diagonal, cut each strip into bite-sized pieces (like you would slicing up a sausage into oblong coin-like pieces).
  4. Start cooking your pasta, according to package directions. Drain and set aside. If it starts to clump together before you mix with the sauce, run hot water over it to separate the noodles right before mixing with your sauce.
  5. Next, over medium-high heat, add your tempeh and sauce to a large frying pan. Cover with two cups of water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and allow all liquid to boil off, approximately 10-15 minutes.
  6. (If you're using a store-bought tomato sauce, skip steps six and seven) Meanwhile, heat two tablespoons olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Once heated, add your onion and saute for about two minutes. Add your garlic and cook an additional two-three minutes, until both garlic and onion are translucent and fragrant.
  7. Next add tomatoes to the olive oil and reduce to a simmer to cook down, approx 10-15 minutes. You want this to cook down into a chunky sauce.
  8. When your sauce is the desired consistency, add the tempeh sausage to the sauce. Finish with the fresh basil and adjust the flavour with any extra salt, pepper or chili flakes if needed.
  9. Finish by tossing the noodles in the sauce, stir to combine well and serve!

Happy eating!

Xo Lindsay

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