April 4, 2013

Tempeh Chimichurri

by IsaChandra

Serves 2
Total time: 90 minutes (1-hour marinade) || Active time: 20 minutes

Tempeh Chimichurri

A few things happened this week that had me searing up this succulent tempeh with a bright, fresh, tangy, garlicky, herby sauce.

One was a long conversation at Omaha Vegan Drinks with our friend Hector, who is from Argentina, the land of chimichurri. I would love to visit someday, and he was telling me about some of the traditional foods. (PS They are verrry meat-centric.)

And then the next day, I heard this fabulous story on NPR about a tempeh cooperative in Jakarta, another place on my travel wish-list: “Journey To Java’s ‘Tempeh Village’: Where Soybean Cakes Are Born.” You can read or listen here.

It got me thinking about traditional vegan foods and food history and food future. And how vegan cuisine plays with traditions from all over the world bringing together every corner of our little planet. And so here we are, with Tempeh Chimichurri.

One of my favorite quotes from Hendeko, the tempeh coop manager: “My world revolves around tempeh, I have tempeh every day. Even though there are other dishes, a meal just wouldn’t feel the same without tempeh.”


I sliced the tempeh thin here so that it would soak up plenty of marinade. Simply slice tempeh into four slabs, then cut each slab in half, like a sandwich. See?


And then I reserved plenty of chimichurri for pouring over the finished dish, so that you get all those bright, fresh flavors. Saute up some asparagus for a few minutes, before cooking the tempeh, and you can serve with a baked potato as well.

And there you have it, a trip to Indonesia and Argentina, all in one.

Recipe Notes

~This recipe serves 2 as an entree, but if you’d like to serve 4, it’s easy. Simply make an extra half serving of the marinade, no need to double it. That will be enough for a pound of tempeh.

~If this is your first time working with tempeh, I wrote a tempeh primer for the Washington Post awhile back. Give it a read!

~If you wanna’ just make the chimichurri, that’s cool, too! It makes a great sauce for black beans, kale and quinoa.

8 oz tempeh, sliced into 8 thin slabs (see pic above)

For the chimichurri:
4 cloves garlic
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro
1 cup loosely packed fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup veg broth

For the additional marinade:
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce

Olive oil spray

To serve:
Sauteed or steamed veggies
Baked potato or rice

First, steam tempeh for 10 minutes. This softens up the tempeh and gets it ready to soak up plenty of marinade.

Meanwhile, make the chimichurri. Simply blend all of the sauce ingredients (not the tamari, though) until relatively smooth.

When tempeh is steamed, pour half a cup of chimichurri into a measuring cup and add the soy sauce. (You want the soy sauce in the marinade, but not the finished chimichurri, it would be too aggressive and salty.) Reserve the rest of the chumichurri for pouring over the cooked tempeh.

Place warm tempeh on a plate and pour marinade over. Rub the marinade into the tempeh. Let sit for an hour, flipping once, and rubbing in the marinade again.

Preheat a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Spray pan with a thin layer of oil. Place tempeh in a single layer and cook for 4 minutes or so, until lightly browned. Spray with more oil, and flip tempeh, cooking for 3 more minutes. Now add the remaining from the plate marinade and cook for 3 to 5 more minutes, flipping occasionally.

Serve tempeh over veggies, drizzled with more fresh chimichurri.

  • April 4, 2013 at 6:16 pm: Danielle

    Any tips for the anti-cilantro followers?

    • April 4, 2013 at 6:17 pm: IsaChandra

      Use all parsley.

  • April 4, 2013 at 6:20 pm: Maija Haavisto

    It looks amazingly green and yummy in the main picture! I haven’t eaten tempeh in way too long…

  • April 4, 2013 at 6:49 pm: allularpunk

    I heard that story the other morning, too! I thought it was extra awesome because I was making the tempeh and white bean sausage patties for dinner (from VWAV). Meant to be! This recipe looks so bright and flavorful, can’t wait to try it.

  • April 4, 2013 at 7:41 pm: Bonnie

    Oh Isa, you did it again. Cooking blues good-bye, hello new and interesting food I have never had but so can’t wait to try. Am wondering if the kids will like this, will let you know (there’s 4 of them:)

  • April 4, 2013 at 8:12 pm: Bianca-Vegan Crunk

    Pretty!! God, I love tempeh. I want to marry a tempeh co-op farmer.

    • April 4, 2013 at 10:54 pm: IsaChandra

      Haha, totally.

  • April 4, 2013 at 8:23 pm: Sarojini

    What a brilliant sauce! I presume it would go nicely on tofu too?

    • April 4, 2013 at 10:54 pm: IsaChandra

      Oh yes!

  • April 4, 2013 at 11:24 pm: kiraten

    we are so energetically connected! I just made chimichurri this morning for my meat-eating roomies and was wondering what to have it with for myself! (kind of kidding about the energetic connection, but lovely synchronicity!)

    • April 5, 2013 at 2:15 am: IsaChandra


  • April 4, 2013 at 11:26 pm: kittee

    I dig on chimichurri so much.

  • April 5, 2013 at 4:47 am: Swati

    I love tempeh! But I’ve never cooked it myself. How to make tempeh at home? I will try this recipe. This recipe looks really good.

  • April 5, 2013 at 12:41 pm: Gina

    ¡Perfecto! ¡Qué rico!

  • April 5, 2013 at 1:11 pm: Darcy

    This looks delicious. And a great way to use up cilantro leftover from the black bean & quinoa soup. :-) Can chimichurri be frozen? I’ve had success with freezing cilantro pesto.

  • April 5, 2013 at 1:48 pm: Kim Willis

    I heard that story on NPR also. Loved the focus on tempeh. This looks fabulous and will be on my menu soon!

  • April 5, 2013 at 6:04 pm: Sean

    If I were to marinate this overnight, would that be a terrible idea?

    • April 5, 2013 at 9:00 pm: IsaChandra

      That’d be great!

  • April 5, 2013 at 6:33 pm: Eileen

    Tempeh is indeed the greatest. I love the idea of punching it up with a spicy chimichurri!

  • April 6, 2013 at 4:45 pm: Efrat

    Hi Isa,
    I wanted to prepare this but got confused between the “marinade,” the “rest of the marinade,” and the “finished chimichurri” at the stage where you add the soy. Where-to do you add the soy and which parts of the marinade are for the soaking and the cooking?

    • April 6, 2013 at 6:49 pm: IsaChandra

      You marinade in 1/2 a cup of the sauce and 1 tablespoon tamari and you cook with that as well. All the reserved is for topping once done.

  • April 7, 2013 at 2:21 am: TofuROCKS

    Made it the other day, let Tempeh marinade over night. Delicious!!!

  • April 8, 2013 at 7:51 pm: Julie

    Do you have a preferred brand of tempeh from the grocery? I’ve had mixed results with the tempeh absorbing marinades. This dish looks fabulous!

    • April 8, 2013 at 11:14 pm: IsaChandra

      Well, there was a brand I loved in Portland and I can’t think of what it was called. It was square and in a blue package. But now that I’m in Omaha I stick with Lightlife, which is the brand I’ve been using for the past 20 years or so.

  • April 8, 2013 at 11:31 pm: Ry

    Made this last night and it was amazing! The sauce was great over everything. We had some leftovers and tucked them into a sandwich today, also amazing!

  • April 9, 2013 at 8:19 pm: Joanna

    nice way to mix vegan cuisine and latin cuisine.

  • April 10, 2013 at 12:53 am: Sherri

    This recipe is genius. What a wonderful way to flavor tempeh! Just made it with a side of smashed rutabaga/carrot/turnips, and it was divine. Thanks for the great idea!

  • April 10, 2013 at 11:19 pm: Kips

    This was our first vegan dinner ever and it was incredible! We’re taking baby steps to a kinder lifestyle, but with awesome recipes like these, I don’t think it’ll be a tough transition! Delicious, filling, and guilt-free (in every sense of the word)!

  • April 12, 2013 at 12:10 am: Lauren Carruth

    Just made. Delicious! Found myself researching how to steam asparagus (interested in time & technique) Anyway, asparagus came out a little raw but I can’t complain about raw veggies!
    Sauce was AMAZING! I used three grain tempeh – Soooooo good. Clean plates here :)
    Thank you for the recipe :)

  • April 12, 2013 at 6:11 pm: Lauren Carruth

    Even leftovers cooked a few minutes in the oven is AMAZING! ;)

  • April 13, 2013 at 3:37 am: Charlotte Drude

    Where do I get tempeh and what is it?

  • April 13, 2013 at 3:39 am: Roberta Repasz

    this looks wonderful, I am looking forward to eating it.

  • April 14, 2013 at 9:32 pm: Kimbie

    I am new to tempeh, but excited to try this recipe. We use chimichurri all the time on lentil burgers and love it. Especially good if you have fresh oregano.

  • April 15, 2013 at 11:30 am: SallyT

    I’ve been craving chimichurri. I bought the ingredients before reading this post, not knowing how i was going to use it. This seals it. I know where to get some awesome tempeh. Thanks

  • April 16, 2013 at 2:21 am: Allisun

    I want to eat this Chimichurri sauce with a meal every day for the rest of my life. I used 2 cups cilantro because I hate parsley and it was heavenly! I want to try adding some fresh lemon juice next time.

  • April 18, 2013 at 1:04 am: Shannon

    Never really got into tempeh until I tried this recipe. F-ing amazing! Making it for the second time in a week.

    • April 18, 2013 at 5:17 pm: IsaChandra

      Welcome to the fold!

  • April 18, 2013 at 3:26 pm: Andrew

    Made this last night with white beans, rice, and asparagus. Taste was excellent. But I don’t know what I did wrong, the sauce was very watery.

  • April 19, 2013 at 4:48 am: Kyle

    Delicious! Another winning, creative recipe from the PPK. The sauce is INCREDIBLE, make a double or triple recipe of it, it’s that good. Enjoy!

  • April 20, 2013 at 7:53 pm: Adam

    I think I’m going to make this with sweet potato fries tonight. Really good looking!

  • April 21, 2013 at 7:43 pm: Cheryl

    Made this a few nights ago. Yum, yum! Thank you Isa!

  • April 22, 2013 at 6:48 pm: Heather

    I tried this recipe Thursday. Huge success! My boyfriend said it was the best thing I have ever made for him ( I cook all the time and we have been dating 3 years- so that says a lot).

  • April 23, 2013 at 9:09 pm: Rhian

    Yummers! Beautiful as written, & I also doubled the sauce & used it as a marinade for baked tofu, s/w lemon & almond couscous.. Can’t think of anything this wouldn’t be tasty with :-)

  • April 27, 2013 at 6:00 am: Lissa

    I’ve never eaten chimichurri before – it looks awesomely vibrant & sparkly tasting; nom. Time to break out the tempeh!

  • April 27, 2013 at 6:02 am: Elaine Kim

    This chimichurri is SO GOOOOD. Thanks! About to dig in.

  • April 29, 2013 at 9:35 pm: justin

    isa, you light up my life

  • May 4, 2013 at 11:37 pm: CiCi

    My family and I have always eaten chimichurri with yucca fries, I am SO EXCITED to try this with the tempeh!!!!

  • May 5, 2013 at 4:28 pm: Katie

    I made this as taco filling. It was great. Next time I won’t add so much veg broth – I like the sauce more pesto-y than liquidy. But I will definitely make again! Thanks for such a light chimichurri recipe! Most I have seen call for lots of oil.

  • May 7, 2013 at 2:12 am: Justine514

    I made this tonight with a zucchini onion and kale stir fry and some quinoa. I also mashed half an avocado with the remaining chimichurri, wich gave the sauce a really nice creamy texture. Omg! so delicious!!! Thanks for the recipe!

  • May 10, 2013 at 1:10 am: rebecca

    Just made it and am eating it right now! Soooo yummy!!!

  • May 10, 2013 at 8:17 pm: cheyanne

    I want to try this, but grill the tempeh. Do you think that would work out?

    • May 12, 2013 at 2:53 am: IsaChandra

      Oh yes!

  • May 11, 2013 at 1:17 pm: Jessica Catherine

    This was great – such a interesting fresh, herby flavour. The marinade really soaked into the tempeh well, and it was perfect with veggies (I sneaked in some mash potato too…nom).

  • May 26, 2013 at 11:17 pm: Charm City

    I just made, and ate, this. OMG, it was fabulous! I’ve been vegan for 20 years and recently had to go gluten-free. Being gluten-free and vegan is ten times more challenging than just being vegan. This recipe is a keeper. I even plan on making if for non-vegan company.

  • May 29, 2013 at 5:03 am: Arin

    I tried this recipe for dinner tonight and it is fantastic. Thanks for such a delicious recipe.

  • June 4, 2013 at 2:28 am: Julie

    Tastes soooo good
    Just had the tempeh chimichurri with rice and kale salad
    Thank you. You have tasteful and easy recipes. =))

  • June 7, 2013 at 1:31 am: steph

    I feel the same way about tempeh.
    This is seriously the best tempeh recipe I’ve ever had/made and I’ve been to Indonesia! This is going in my regular rotation – YUM! and thanks, as always for being such a brilliant chef :)

  • June 8, 2013 at 2:16 am: Lisa

    I made this last weekend and it really, really rocked my world. Really. It was like listening to Crucifix for the first time! Inspirational and full of AWESOME! Thank you.

  • June 11, 2013 at 1:28 am: Michelle Dwyer

    LOVED this recipe! Thank you! I used a little mint and basil as well because I had some on hand and not the full amount of cilantro and parsley. Delicious and very easy! Will definitely recommend this recipe to others!

  • July 12, 2013 at 8:26 pm: Tony

    THIS BLOG IS RAD! thank you

  • September 14, 2013 at 10:36 pm: Nepenthe Sea

    I always put my chimichurri over sauteed portobellos, but this looks good, too.

  • September 17, 2013 at 7:08 pm: Alisha Berry

    I am trying to turn my eating lifestyle around, I am only 17 years old and already want to live a better lifestyle. I feel so unhealthy, and all your recipes sound delish. But how can I even get started ? When everyone in my family looooves meat and fatty foods. Helpp. I’m writing down your recipes but don’t know how to buy the things I need.

  • October 8, 2013 at 10:27 pm: veganUP

    Ace! I used lemon instead of vinegar and it turned out well… apart from being FAR FAR too salty. I assume Tamari is lower in salt than the soy I used. Maybe recipe notes should tell your chefs this 8-)

  • December 6, 2013 at 8:28 pm: VeganVamp

    I’m another gal never quite sold on tempeh (meh so far), but LOVE it in this dish! Also used 2c of cilantro as I had no parsley.

    Everything is so green and pretty (rice doused in the green sauce, tender-crisp charred asparagus). Omni husband is moaning. Garlicky, spicy, fresh, soul-satisfying.

  • January 26, 2014 at 1:02 pm: Joy

    Delicious. Omni bf and pal both commented on the amazing fresh zingy-ness of the sauce:) Thank you Isa.

  • March 30, 2014 at 2:10 am: Lulu

    Is there a gluten free substitute for red wine viniegar? Thanks!

  • December 17, 2014 at 7:32 pm: Jean

    I found the red wine vinegar overpowering. I’m not sure if this is how chimichurri usually tastes because it’s the first time I’ve made it, but I’d definitely reduce that ingredient next time. I’m always looking for a good tempeh recipe so please keep them coming!

  • March 24, 2015 at 6:04 am: kelsey

    Just made this and it was so good! Unfortunately I wasn’t thinking and I scrapped my plate of marinade into my pot to cook the tempeh causing my dish to be a little to salty. Otherwise a fabulous dish. I added mashed polenta on the side. Yum. Definitely will make it again.

  • May 9, 2015 at 12:56 am: Christine

    Made this tonight- it was flat out awesome! My first time cooking tempeh and making chimichurri, and my fiancé and I loved it! Thank you!

  • October 28, 2015 at 10:31 pm: Lisa

    Cooking this now and tripled the recipe (for 6 of us) … with 2.25 cups veg broth and 3 cups each of cilantro and parsley … the sauce still seems really really watery. Perhaps “loosely packed” means more like “packed”? I added the rest of the bunch of cilantro and parsley to the “side sauce” to try to thicken it up like the photo. Tastes wonderful, though … but any suggestions?

  • March 15, 2016 at 2:13 am: Ryan

    Thanks for this, Isa! I’ve made it quite a few times over the past 2 years or so, and it always hits the spot!

  • March 25, 2016 at 3:09 pm: Susan

    This was Devine! Loved all the flavors of the garlic, cilantro and the parsley with the tempeh! Don’t want to lose this recipe. Which cookbook is this recipe in?

  • April 8, 2016 at 6:46 pm: Myra

    First, I love your site and this recipe for chimichuri is great. I have been using hydroponics from a company called http://www.planetponics.com that allows me to grow the herbs, vegetables & grains for some of your recipes. I really enjoyed the value and idea this company was striving for. Thought I would share it for others. You can grow all year and in any climate. It grows food such as herbs, vegetables, flowers and grains. And there is no soil, no mess, self-watering hydroponics. Thanks again and keep the recipes coming!

  • June 1, 2016 at 8:37 pm: HeatherGirves

    Ok- so I know this is an older blog but I have been making this recipe for 3 years now and it never gets old. SOOOOO good!