5 Ingredients or Fewer

Tempeh Parm

May 16, 2021
4 Ratings
Photo by Linda Xiao. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis. Food Stylist: Monica Pierini.
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

Inspired by chicken or eggplant Parmesan, but without the chicken or eggplant—and without a lot of the other ingredients too. This Big Little Recipe is all about tempeh, an Indonesian ingredient that I always have around. Cooked soybeans are fermented, then pressed into a dense, chewy cake with a nutty, mushroom-like flavor. Tempeh can be steamed, stir-fried, grilled, poached, or fried—today, we’re opting for the latter, with a cast-iron skillet and slick of olive oil. You need nothing more to turn thin slabs into crispy cutlets. Don’t skimp on the oil or salt in the tomato sauce; their generous quantities mean we can skip the usual suspects like onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Likewise, fresh mozzarella, not low-moisture, will yield the gooiest, happiest tempeh Parm. —Emma Laperruque

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Tempeh Parm
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for pan-frying
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 8 ounces tempeh
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella
  • Parmesan, for grating
  1. Add the tomatoes and their juices to a medium pot. Use your hands, a wooden spoon, or a pair of scissors to break down the tomatoes a bit. Add the olive oil and salt and set over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced and flavorful, about 30 minutes.
  2. While the tomato sauce is cooking, halve the tempeh crosswise. Now halve each of these pieces lengthwise, so you have four thin rectangles. Slice the mozzarella into four pieces.
  3. Set a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add just enough olive oil to thinly coat the bottom. When that’s hot, add the tempeh. Cook for 1 1/2 to 3 minutes per side, until deeply golden brown and crusty.
  4. Transfer the tempeh slices back to the cutting board (or a plate). Position a rack in the upper quarter of the oven and turn on the broiler. Get out a small, broiler-proof baking dish.
  5. Add a tempeh slice to the dish. Top in this order: a heaping spoonful of tomato sauce, mozz slice, shower of grated Parm, tempeh slice, heaping spoonful of tomato sauce, mozz slice.
  6. Repeat the above step with the remaining ingredients to build another tempeh Parm stack, right next to the first one. (And if you’re more of a visual learner for these steps, I feel you—check out the recipe video.)
  7. Broil the tempeh Parm stacks for 2 1/2 to 5 minutes, checking frequently, until melty and browning in spots. As soon as it comes out of the oven, shower with more grated Parm. Serve with the extra marinara sauce for dunking if you’d like.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • erinrae
  • Gretchen
  • Yolanda Odom
    Yolanda Odom
  • Lesterj2
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

4 Reviews

erinrae November 9, 2021
This is a fun, easy weeknight dinner! I didn't end up stacking them because my tempeh was a bit thicker, so had 4 mini-stacks (just 1 tempeh and 1 cheese layer) and it worked great! I had half the sauce left (even with generous saucing) and think a 14.5 ounce can of tomatoes would work.
Gretchen May 3, 2021
I loved this recipe! It’s a novel and delicious way to use tempeh. The result is the perfect combination of healthy comfort food. The one change I made was to use a homemade tomato sauce, which I had on hand. I will be making this again soon!
Yolanda O. March 30, 2021
This totally exceeded my expectations! I like tempeh and this sounded interesting if a bit odd. Tempeh with cheese and tomato sauce? Who knew. The crunchy tempeh and that sauce! Heaven. Could not stop eating it. Thank you!
Lesterj2 March 25, 2021
This was my first experience with Tempeh and it was really good, though we thought it was missing something - not sure what. Next time we'll season the tempeh before sauteeing and add some sliced basil on top. But definitely a keeper!