Tempting Tempeh Calzones

By  |  2 Comments

Tempeh, calzones, kale, tempeh calzones Dario and I have been meat free now for about 8 months or so.  You might think it was my idea, as the nutritionist, to go meat free, but nope, it was Dario’s.  I followed suit, at first because I was frustrated he’d pick out every morsel of meat from my meals.  Then I realized, I actually didn’t really mind the whole meat free method of eating.  Plus, I was never a huge meat person anyways.

But the more and more I’ve learned about vegetarian cooking and played around in the kitchen, I’ve really grown to love cooking vegetarian foods.  It really has taught me a lot about the almost limitless possibilities of plant-based foods.  Nuts can be transformed into a thick and luscious cream sauce and tofu can be mistaken for a creamy ricotta lasagna filling!  I’ve truly been amazed at the tastes and textures these foods can have.

TempehCalzone6 One of my most favorite vegetarian discoveries has been tempeh.  (If you’re not familiar with it, check out a previous post of mine:  How-To Tempeh for more information.)  It has yet to fail in taste, flavor and texture.  My latest tempeh experiment?  Turning it into Italian sausage…or so to speak.  I love the flavor of Italian sausage – the fennel, red pepper, garlic, parsley, sage… very yummy.

Since tempeh soaks up just about any type of marinade, I knew I could infuse it with these flavors.  And boy did it work!  The whole time I munched my way through these calzones, I kept telling Dario how surprised I was that tempeh could taste IDENTICAL to Italian sausage.  Really!  Identical!  Mixed with some garlic, sautéed kale, ricotta and mozzarella, these calzones were a hit!

And I bet I could totally fool my meat-loving family with these too!  Watch out Winebrenner’s, tempeh is coming your way!  Hmmmm that might just be a good idea!  But for now, I’ll just share my recipe with you:

Tempeh Sausage and Kale Calzones:

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp ground sage
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp ground fennel seeds
  • 1 lb whole wheat pizza dough (I used Martha Stewart’s Recipe)
  • 1 8oz package of tempeh, crumbled
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 16 oz kale
  • ½ thinly slice onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ⅛ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup low fat ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup mozzarella cheese
  • Marinara sauce – for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Mix together the marinade ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
  3. Crumble the tempeh and add to marinade. Allow to set for at least 1 hour.
  4. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
  5. Drain tempeh from marinade (but save left over marinade). Add to skillet and cook until browned on all sides. Remove tempeh from skillet and set aside in a large bowl.
  6. Add onions to skillet and saute for 7 minutes or until onions are starting to get translucent. Add garlic, reserved marinade and kale. Cook another 7-10 minutes or until kale is fully cooked down.
  7. Add kale and onion mixture to crumbled tempeh. Add in the ricotta and mozzarella.
  8. Divide the pizza dough into 6 even balls. Roll out to ¼” thick.
  9. Scoop ¾-1 cup of the filling onto each piece of dough and fold over the top. Press the edges together tightly to make sure no filling leaks out.
  10. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until dough is golden brown. Serve with warm marinara sauce.

You tell me!  What’s your favorite vegetarian meal re-make?  Have you tried tempeh before?  If so, what’s your favorite way to prepare it?


  1. Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies

    February 26, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    I love tempeh and I love calzones! I’ve never thought to use tempeh as a substitute for sausage, but since I don’t eat most sausage substitutes, this is totally something I want to try–great idea!

    • mewinebrenner

      February 26, 2013 at 2:51 pm

      These were so good! And you can flavor the tempeh anyway you want. Then crumble and brown and stuff into delicious pizza dough! WAY better than meat substitutes!

Hey, thanks for reading! Share your thoughts!