Vegan Crispy Pesto Tempeh with Parmesan Polenta

 This will make you wonder how anything can be so delicious. 

I love my carbs, but sometimes I just need a break from pasta every once in a while. This vegan and gluten free meal always hits the spot. Vegan crispy pesto tempeh with Parmesan polenta is glorious. Tempeh crumbles are baked until nice and crispy, while you make super creamy and cheesy vegan polenta. Pesto tops it all, and the flavor is out of control.

This is pretty healthy, I replace the oil in the pesto with veggie broth, but there is no lack of richness, I promise. I am not madly in love with tempeh, unless it is cooked right. It has to be crispy for me. Crumbling it maximizes crispiness, and this tempeh turns into delicious little nuggets of joy.

The polenta is so outrageously cheesy, you will think there is no way it doesn’t have real Parmesan in it. The Parmesan flavored polenta goes so well with pesto it is crazy! 

Crispy pesto tempeh with Parmesan polenta is definitely where I lean when I really don’t feel like pasta, but want something nice and hearty. It is also one of the go to recipes for date nights in for my husband and me. 

This crispy pesto tempeh will be love at first bite. The creamy Parmesan polenta will be something you dream about. Nice lovely pillowy, creamy, cheesy, luscious dreams. 


Vegan Crispy Pesto Tempeh with Parmesan Polenta
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins

Crispy tempeh nuggets, creamy dreamy vegan Parmesan polenta all topped with light fresh pesto. 

Course: Main Course
Servings: 4
Author: Lauren Hartmann
Vegan Pesto
  • 2 C. Basil, fresh
  • 2 Tbsp. Walnuts or pine nuts
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. Nutritional yeast
  • 1/3 C. Vegetable broth
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Crispy Tempeh
  • 8 oz. Tempeh
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Pepper
Vegan Creamy Parmesan Polenta
  • 2 C. Vegetable broth
  • 2 C. Almond milk or other non dairy milk
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1 C. Yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. Vegan butter, I used Earth Balance
  • 3 Tbsp. Nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 C. Coconut milk, full fat
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Now, make the pesto. Add all the pesto ingredients to a blender or food processor, and pulse until everything is combined and smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside. 

  3. Next bake the tempeh, crumble the tempeh into a mixing bowl and pour the olive oil and salt and pepper on top. Toss to coat thoroughly. Pour onto a baking sheet. Spread out in a single layer and then bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until crispy and brown. Tossing half way through baking.  

  4. While the tempeh is baking, make the creamy parmesan polenta. in a medium or large pot, add the veggie broth, almond milk and chopped garlic. Heat on medium high and bring to a boil. 

  5. Once the liquid is boiling, slowly, and carefully pour the cornmeal into the liquid in a slow stream, whisking the whole time. This will keep it from becoming lumpy. 

  6. Whisk the polenta until fully combined, add salt and pepper, and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 8-10 more minutes until it is really thick and the cornmeal is all really soft and creamy. 

  7. Turn off the heat, then stir in the vegan butter, nutritional yeast and coconut milk. Stir to combine, then taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. 

  8. Once the tempeh and the polenta are done, pour the tempeh into a bowl and toss with about half the pesto. Then serve with polenta on the bottom, topped with crispy pesto tempeh, and then top with another drizzle of pesto. 

Recipe Notes

If the pesto is a bit too thick for your liking, add just a splash more veggie broth. 

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  • Reply
    August 16, 2018 at 11:08 pm

    Holy cow woman! This is one of the most amazing recipes I think I have ever come across. I can just taste the creamy “cheesiness” of the polenta and the hearty bold tempeh. I adore tempeh and I adore polenta, never thought to combine them. NOM NOM. I’ll be making it tomorrow night and I cannot wait!

    • Reply
      Lauren Hartmann
      August 17, 2018 at 8:17 pm

      I love this recipe so much! I really hope you like it!

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