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closeupphoto of white bowl filled with zucchini noodle pasta and a tempeh mushroom tomato sauce mixed together

Vegan Crumbled Tempeh Tomato Sauce Pasta

This plant-based tomato pasta sauce uses crumbled, ground tempeh to increase the protein content of the dish for a filling, nutritious weeknight meal! Recipe is vegan and easily made gluten-free.
Cuisine Italian, Mediterranean
Keyword basil, garlic, mushrooms, pasta, tempeh, thyme, tomatoes, zucchini
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4


  • Spaghetti or other long pasta noodles (enough for 4 people)
  • 1 package tempeh (roughly 200g or 7 oz)
  • 2 med-small zucchinis
  • ~4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp tamari
  • 1 tsp thyme, dried
  • 1 tsp oregano, dried
  • 3 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups canned tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 handful fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil for pasta.
  • Meanwhile, slice mushrooms and mince garlic. Make zucchini noodles using a spiralizer or vegetable peeler. Set aside.
  • Using your hands, a food processor, or a cheese grater, crumble tempeh into a large bowl. The goal is to achieve a similar texture to ground meat!
  • Once water has boiled, add pasta and cook according to package directions.
  • Heat 2 large pans over medium heat. In 1 pan, add 2 tbsp olive oil and minced garlic, cooking for 1-2 minutes until slightly browned. Add crumbled tempeh, tamari, thyme, and oregano and continue to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • In the other pan, add remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil and sauté mushrooms until browned and tender, approx. 10 mins. 
  • Then, add tomatoes and tomato paste to pan with tempeh. Continue to cook for about 5 mins, stirring regularly.
  • When mushrooms are cooked, drain and add to the pan with the tempeh-tomato mixture. Add chopped fresh basil, salt, and pepper and stir together. Adjust seasonings as needed.
  • Drain pasta and return to cooking pot. Add zucchini noodles and pasta sauce, stirring together until the sauce coats the pasta and zucchini noodles.
  • Serve pasta and top with freshly grated parmesan or nutritional yeast as desired. Enjoy hot! 


*You do not have to cook the zucchini noodles! They maintain their texture best when added to the pasta raw. They will heat up and soften slightly when mixed with the other ingredients.
*STORAGE: Leftovers of this recipe will keep for 3-4 days in an airtight container in the fridge. You can reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop.
*MODIFICATIONS: While this recipe tastes great as is, there are so many ways you can modify it to suit your needs. Here are some ideas!
  • Instead of canned tomatoes and tomato paste, you can use a store-bought tomato sauce and add the other ingredients to it.
  • You can add other vegetables in place of or in addition to the mushrooms, like spinach, kale, carrots, or bell peppers.
  • You can skip the zucchini noodles if desired!
  • You can use any type of pasta shape you'd like. Be sure to choose a gluten-free alternative if needed.
  • You can serve it with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast (if plant-based), or some freshly grated parmesan if you eat dairy.