Asian fusion cuisine... these Spicy Sesame Noodles With Grilled Tempeh and Edamame feature a savory sauce of tahini, sambal oelek (chile garlic sauce), tamari, rice vinegar, and ginger sauce that plays oh-so-well together with protein-rich angel hair pasta. Edamame, sweet bell pepper, chick peas, and marinated and grilled tempeh provide textural variety and additional protein in this healthy, vegan spicy sesame noodles recipe! #meatlessmonday
A new species is being cooked in the alembic of fusions. The membrane between cultures, between worlds, between old and new ways of being is breaking down.~~ Jean Houston, Jump Time: Shaping Your Future in a World of Radical Change
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - Recipe Inspiration
Tahini (Middle Eastern primarily) and sambal oelek? Mmmm... this pasta sauce is so savory, so "fusion," and quite extraordinary. In 1992, while my husband Mark was a young Assistant Professor at UC Irvine, and I was an "immature mom" with 4 young sons and trying to do my very best for them, I gravitated towards the California healthy-lifestyle and fitness gurus that advocated a vegetarian diet.
I was 33 years old, I had a plethora of amazing local and organic produce available to me at the Orange County Farmers Market, and I was totally "on board" with feeding my family a healthy, (mostly) vegetarian diet... The 15 Minute Vegetarian Gourmet by Paulette Mitchell (published in 1992) was a "go to" cookbook for quick weeknight meals.
Fast forward to the late 1990's and into the next century, and we had moved to the "food desert" of New Mexico, the produce was not as varied, abundant, and cheap, and our boys were old enough to say "where's the beef?" UGH! My resolve to follow a vegetarian diet waned, and eventually I gave it up for the most part.
Since moving to McAllen, Texas, however, I once again have an amazing variety of farm-fresh and locally grown produce, and I no longer have our sons to feed regularly. Thus, I have committed to once again eating vegetarian meals on a somewhat regular basis.
What constitutes a "healthy" vegetarian diet?
As a weight lifter and cyclist that carefully watches macro nutrients, having adequate protein in a vegan/vegetarian recipe always concerns me. The 15 Minute Vegetarian Gourmet's Pasta With Chinese Tahini Sauce has made a somewhat regular appearance on our table over the past 24 years. It is easy to customize with seasonal ingredients, and the tahini sauce is addictive. My only concern with the dish is the lack of protein...
I decided this dish was one that warranted an "update." 🙂 I almost always use Barilla Plus protein-enriched pasta, and I highly recommend its use in any vegetarian pasta dish! I substituted edamame (great protein source) for the peas, added chick peas and grilled tempeh, then garnished with roasted cashews... I think the protein content at 30 grams is pretty close to ideal for a vegan main dish!
🥕 About Tempeh
Tempeh is made from soybeans, though a variety of beans, grains, nuts, and flavorings may be added as well. The soybeans are cooked and fermented before being packed into a brick-like cake.
If you love the "start from scratch" approach, see How to Make Tempeh at Home.
Is tempeh healthy? You bet! A 3 ounce serving contains 140 calories, 16 grams of protein, 4.5 grams of fat, and 7 grams of fiber. It is also a great source of key vitamins and minerals like B vitamins and magnesium. For more on the health benefits of tempeh, see Tempeh.
The grilled tempeh is chewy, and adds a lot of texture to the dish. Key to achieving a good result with tempeh is to pre-cook it. I have included a link in the "Notes" section of the recipe that gives a bit more information on grilling tempeh. I prefer to steam, rather than boil, the tempeh. Either method is fine. Ideally, the tempeh will spend a couple of hours in the marinade, but I have found that even 20 minutes imparts delicious flavor! This healthy one-dish meal can be on your table in 30 minutes excluding marinating the tempeh! 🙂
We'll be looking forward to pairing Spicy Sesame Noodles With Grilled Tempeh and Edamame with our very own Gewurtztraminer in a few weeks. My husband started our first batch of wine since our move earlier this month... This is a true sign that we're "home." I would suggest a similar crisp, dry white wine such as a viognier or dry gewurtztraminer with this spicy fusion dish.
📋 Ingredients Notes
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
Tempeh and Marinade
- tamari or soy sauce - I keep this tamari sauce in my refrigerator. Tamari is typically gluten free, but check the bottle to be sure!
- sesame oil
- rice vinegar
- garlic - Minced garlic in a jar is a great time saver!
- fresh ginger - Minced ginger in a jar is a great time saver!
- tempeh - On photo day, I used this 3 Grain Tempeh. We really like this brand!
Chinese Tahini Sauce
- tahini - Tahini paste is naturally gluten free, and a great ingredient to keep in your pantry.
- rice vinegar
- soy sauce
- sesame oil
- sambal oelek - AKA chili garlic paste.
- fresh ginger
- vegetable stock or water
Completing the Pasta
- pasta - As I mention in the post, I prefer Barilla Plus protein enriched.
- shelled edamame
- sweet pepper - Any color, but I like red and orange!
- chick peas
- roasted cashews
While the list of ingredients looks long, this is a simple recipe that comes together quickly. Don't let the list of ingredients intimidate you! Keep in mind, if you're short on time, you can skip the marinating of the tempeh!
- Marinate the tempeh - Pre-cook the tempeh (10 minutes in a steamer is ideal). Whisk together the ingredients for the tempeh marinade. Pour into a suitably-sized zip bag. Add the tempeh block. Marinade while you prep the rest of the ingredients and make the sauce. While the tempeh marinates, continue with the recipe.
- Make the Chinese Tahini Sauce - Whisk together the ingredients for the sauce, and set aside.
- Prepare the remaining ingredients - Put a large pot of water with a tablespoon of salt on to boil for the pasta. Preheat the grill. If the edamame are frozen, bring them to room temperature by running warm water over them in a strainer. Shake off excess water. Add to a bowl large enough to hold the entire pasta dish. Add the julienned sweet pepper and the chick peas.
- Finish the dish - Grill the tempeh. Cube it, and set aside. Cook the pasta according to your package instructions (angel hair is only about 7 minutes). When the pasta is al dente, drain. Toss with ½ of the sauce while the pasta is hot (even if serving cold). Then toss the pasta and sauce with the edamame, julienned pepper, and chick peas.
- Serve - Top the pasta with grilled tempeh cubes, chopped scallion, cilantro, and cashews. Enjoy!
What does tempeh taste like? Tempeh is a somewhat divisive ingredient. People tend to either love it or hate it. It has a big of tang from the fermentation (think sourdough bread versus regular bread). It has a firm, chewy texture that holds up well in a pasta dish like this one. It takes on the flavor of the add-ins and the ingredients around it!
I don't like tempeh. What can I substitute? If you're following a plant-based diet, and like tofu, press some firm tofu, cube it, and cook it by your favorite method before adding. If you're not concerned about keeping it plant-based, this would be a great way to use cooked chicken breast (rotisserie chicken).
Pre-cooked tempeh softens its chewy texture for a far better result! Don't skip this step. For more on pre-cooking tempeh.
It's not really possible to be precise with macros on this recipe. Only a small amount of the marinade stays on the tempeh, and half the dressing is tossed with the pasta, but the remainder is drizzled over top.
The "take away" with this recipe is the ideal amount of protein in this dish!
🧂 Useful Stuff
Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. This helps to offset the costs of maintaining my blog and creating awesome content! 😊
Have you cooked with tempeh? It is an excellent protein source, and if you're committed to eating either exclusively or occasionally vegan/vegetarian meals, it's a great way to get the protein into your meals!
Peter Block says
There are so many good flavors in this dish. I have been making more vegetarian and vegan recipes but have not tried tempeh yet. This shows me a good way to use it.
I have only recently begun cooking with tempeh myself, and find I like the texture better than tofu... I hope you'll give it a try Peter! Thanks so much!
Claudia | Gourmet Project says
perfect timing: I have tempeh waiting for me in the fridge and had no idea how to pair it. this bowl looks perfect for the intention 😋
You should give it a whirl! Thanks so much Claudia!
Patricia @ Grab a Plate says
I love tempeh, but must admit I end up using it the same way too often. Glad to see your flavorful dish that incorporates it! Can't wait to give this a go!
Oh, I hope you do! I got the flax seed tempeh this last time, and I loved the texture after it was marinated and grilled! Thanks Patricia!
This looks so spicy and delicious. I love anything with tahini. I admit, I've never worked with tempeh before, but I'm inspired now to give it a try!
Tahini is one of my favorite ingredients, and I've only recently started cooking with tempeh... I was looking to get more protein into my vegetarian dishes. Thanks Lucy!
These noodles look heavenly and I am loving the sound of that tahini sauce!! Tempeh is one of my favorite sources of protein. I love finding different dishes to incorporate it in to, thanks for the inspiration!
My pleasure Erin! I don't eat an exclusively vegetarian diet, but I do eat it regularly, and protein is always a concern... Glad to inspire you!
Bobbi from Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen says
I don't think I could get the Mr to try the tempeh, but I know he would love those noodles!!!
Then make him those noodles Bobbi! We've got to keep our guys happy 🙂
I've never had the opportunity to try tempeh, but this looks delicious and I think I'd like it.
Thanks Amy! I like the texture better than tofu, and it definitely holds up better in a dish! Perhaps you should give it a try 🙂
sue | theviewfromgreatisland says
So excited --- I'm off to buy tempeh, i can't believe that this food blogger has never tried it!
Yay! I love to encourage people to try new foods 🙂
lisa @ garlicandzest.com says
I've never cooked with tempeh before, but this dish looks delish! My daughter is coming home from college and she's informed me that she wants to "try going vegan". Thanks for the recipe -- we're going to "try".
Well, this was a timely recipe then! Thanks Lisa... I hope you like it!
Liz @ I heart vegetables says
YUM! I've been trying to find more recipes for tempeh because it's such a great source of protein and I'm a vegetarian! This looks awesome!
I'm so glad Liz! I do a fair amount of creating and eating vegetarian dishes, and my biggest concern is getting adequate protein into the dish. I hope you give this one a try. Tempeh is a great source of protein for sure!
I've only eaten tempeh a few times and haven't been too impressed, but you make it look so very appetizing. I know I've never had it marinaded then grilled and certainly not tossed in with tasty bowl of spicy noodles. You've sold me. Need to give tempeh another chance. Thanks Tamara!
I waited a long time to try it MJ! I just so want to eat more vegetarian meals, and the protein "thing" is a tough one. There just aren't a lot of ways to get the protein up in summer time meals when lots of beans and legumes aren't as appealing... I'm glad the recipe caught your attention; I hope you do try it - and like it! Thanks so much!