Tempeh is a valuable source of protein, and a great meat substitute. It is made from soybeans that have been cooked and fermented with a special culture that binds the beans together into a firm, sliceable cake. The fermentation process also makes tempeh easy to digest.
Tempeh has a chewy texture and a hearty, somewhat mushroom-like flavor. It’s a nutritional superstar – one serving gives 20 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber and plenty of cancer-fighting soy isofavones.
Temeph easily absorbs flavors and can be baked, boiled, fried or steamed. It can be sliced, cubed or crumbled to make a variety of dishes, and keeps well in the freezer without sacrificing its texture.
Recipes from “The Veg-Feasting Cookbook” by Vegetarians of Washington
Curried Tempeh Salad
This protein-packed salad goes equally well on a bed of salad greens or tucked into a pita pocket. It keeps well in the refrigerator.
2 pounds tempeh, cut in small cubes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups vegan mayonnaise
4 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 teaspoon vegetarian Worcestershire Sauce
0.25 teaspoon ground cumin
1 medium red onion, diced small
6 medium ribs celery, chopped
1 cup walnuts, toasted in a dry skillet and chopped
0.5 cup chopped fresh parsley,
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Toss the tempeh cubes with the oil and spread in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool.
While the tempeh is baking, combine the mayonnaise, curry powder, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and cumin in a large bowl and whisk to blend. Add the onion, celery, walnuts and parsley and stir to combine. Add the cooled tempeh and stir gently until just blended.
This is an ideal “do it yourself ” meal. Serve the taco shells, filling, and condiments family-style at the table and let everyone build their own protein-rich tempeh tacos.
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
5 large cloves garlic, minced fine
4.5 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder (or to taste)
2 (8-ounce) packages tempeh, chopped fine
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 package taco shells
1 cup shredded cheddar-style soy cheese
2 medium tomatoes, chopped fine
3 ounces sprouts, such as alfalfa, broccoli, or radish
1 ripe avocado, chopped
Taco sauce or salsa
Put the olive oil in a large skillet and warm over medium heat. Add the diced onions, garlic and about 1.5 teaspoons salt. Sauté until the onions begin to soften and turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin and chili powder and stir to incorporate. Add the tempeh, stir to incorporate and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring regularly so the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the skillet. Add the tomato paste and 1.5 cups water. Stir until all the tomato paste and water are thoroughly blended with the tempeh mixture. The mixture should be thick but not dry. If it is dry, add up to 6 tablespoons water. Taste and add salt and extra spices if necessary. Cover the skillet, reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes.
Place some tempeh taco filling in the bottom of each taco shell. Top with shredded soy cheese, tomatoes, avocado and sprouts. Sprinkle taco sauce over the top.
Simple and tasty, this seasoned tempeh can be used to accompany pancakes or turned into a vegetarian “TLT” sandwich.
Serves 4 to 6
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried basil
¼ cup high-oleic safflower oil, or organic canola oil
1 (8-ounce) package tempeh, cut crosswise into ¼-inch-wide strips
1 tablespoon tamari or shoyu (soy sauce)
In a small bowl, thoroughly stir together the oregano, thyme, and basil. Line a dinner plate with a paper towel and set near the stove. Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of the oil, then half of the tempeh strips. Fry the slices briefly, about 30 seconds on each side.
Sprinkle half of the herb mixture over the tempeh as it fries. Remove the tempeh slices and place them on the prepared plate. Repeat the process with the remaining oil, tempeh and herbs. When finished, sprinkle the fried tempeh with the tamari and serve.