Steaming the tempeh improves the flavor profile by reducing bitterness. It’s not necessary when using bolder flavors, but in this case, it’s nice because of the light flavors from the citrus, coconut and fresh herbs.   Reprinted with permission from Vegan Yum by Megan Sadd, Page Street Publishing Co. 2020. Photo credit: Megan Sadd

Pan-Seared Tempeh with Lemon Parmesan Cream [Vegan]





For the Tempeh:

  • 3 small zucchini
  • 4 teaspoons (20 ml) olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to sprinkle
  • Pepper, to sprinkle
  • 10 oz (283 g) tempeh
  • 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) water
  • 1 cup (170 g) whole-grain pearl couscous
  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon (18 g) vegan butter, divided
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup (240 ml) coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) shredded vegan Parmesan (store-bought, see Fresh Tips!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (5 g) minced chives
  • 2 tablespoons (2 g) minced dill

For Serving:

  • 1/2 cup (8 g) microgreens or arugula
  • Crusty baguette (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the zucchini into 1/4-inch (6-mm) half moons. Place the zucchini on the baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix to combine, then roast for 15 minutes, until tender. Stir halfway through cook time.
  2. Slice the tempeh into 1⁄2-inch (12-mm)-thick triangles. Steam the tempeh in a basket over a small amount of water for 10 minutes. Bring the 11⁄4 cups (300 ml) of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the couscous, cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, until the water is absorbed, then fluff with a fork.
  3. Melt 1 tablespoon (14 g) of vegan butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the steamed tempeh. Sprinkle with salt. Fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side. Cut one lemon in half. Cut the other into slices.
  4. Push the tempeh to the sides of the pan. Melt 1 teaspoon of vegan butter in the center. Add the shallot and garlic to the center. Place the lemon halves and slices cut side down next to the shallots. Press them down to get a nice sear. Cook the shallots for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Remove the lemons from the pan when they’re browned.
  5. Add the milk, red pepper flakes, Parmesan, sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the pan. Juice the halved lemon into the pan. Reserve the lemon slices to garnish the plate. Stir the sauce to combine. Flip the tempeh around to coat. Let the sauce reduce for a minute, then add the chives and dill.
  6. Mix the zucchini into the couscous. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of olive oil to the couscous and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Divide the couscous and tempeh among serving plates. Spoon the sauce over the tempeh and garnish with microgreens and grilled lemon slices. Serve immediately with a crusty baguette (if using)


Store-bought vegan Parmesan works best in this recipe! It melts into the sauce and adds to the creaminess.