I’ve said it on my blog before how I love vegan food. Some people even ask me if I’m vegan when they first meet me and realize I’m a health foodie. Oh so you like healthy food, you eat primarily vegetables and plant-based meals… no meat for you right? No, not exactly. Despite not being a vegan, it is true that I love dishes that are classified as vegan. Right now I currently have leftover cooked tempeh in my fridge and right above it, a bag of Applegate turkey meat. I might even have some yogurt sitting next to dairy-free almond-based cheese. Doing away with food labels and eating all of the above, what I find most beneficial for my body and containing ingredients that please me is what I’m a firm believer in. Occasionally my cravings can be a huge bowl of tempeh when other days all I think about is making a turkey panini in my panini press (best Christmas present I ever received).
Recently, a few of my “foodie friends” have been asking me how I prepare tempeh and what are the best ways to eat it. Before I begin to share with you today two ways to utilize one of my favorite ingredients, I’ll give you a bit of insight as to what TEM-pay even is. I’m sure most of my readers right now (my dad being one of them) are probably wondering what the heck I’m talking about. To sum it up, tempeh is a long rectangular block comprised of organic cultured and fermented soybeans. For vegans and vegetarians alike, it is an excellent source of protein coming in at 16g per serving. One block usually lasts me three servings and I replace it with meat or fish when I’m on the go or in the hurry for a quick meal that will cook up in 10-15 minutes.
I often purchase my tempeh at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, choosing the Lightlife brand. Lightlife creates other vegan meat-alternative products such as sausages, beef and burgers, but I’ve only tried (and am a fan of) their tempeh. Three grain is probably my favorite flavor as it includes organic barley, organic millet, and organic brown rice. This means you’re getting in some carbohydrates while taking in your protein! Nom nom.
A perk to eating tempeh is that I can pair it with really anything. When you purchase tempeh, it is “ready to eat” yet I personally have always cooked it until it’s browned on both sides – about 5 minutes give or take if you’re sautéing it in a pan with a tablespoon or so of olive oil. If sautéing isn’t for you, tempeh cooks to a dark brown without burning if you pop it in the oven at 375-400º for 10-15 minutes. Keep an eye on it and as long as it is golden, you’re good to go!
When I’m looking for something more than just throwing tempeh next to some veggies and sweet potatoes (a usual go-to for me because like I mentioned earlier, it’s quick and easy), these two recipes come in handy for when you want to be a tempeh top-chef.
1. Tempeh Burrito Bowl
My first method of using tempeh in a filling dish is taking a Chipotle twist on it. The other night I was really in the mood for tacos (shocker) but decided to have a burrito bowl instead. With no quinoa or on-hand protein, I decided to go down the “throw a million veggies in a bowl with tempeh” path.
When roasting vegetables for a veggie bowl, I always throw them in my oven on a baking sheet for 20 minutes at 400º with a bit of olive oil to coat. If they are frozen (broccoli or beets), I do 10 minutes at 400º with no olive oil. This results in crispy veggies that provide the ideal texture.
If I’ll be making a bowl of veggies and tempeh, I’ll toss them all together – like I did in this case with the sliced red peppers. This makes it 10x easier to take it out of the oven. Toss on some arugula and add a blob of guacamole to finish it off. If you’ve got extra beans or brown rice on hand, feel free to throw that in as well. Couldn’t be easier and you’ve got a meal in 20 minutes or less!
2. Almond Avocado Tempeh Salad
This salad would not have come to plate if it wasn’t for the inspiration that developed from seeing my dear foodie friend Rachel‘s Instagram post a few days back. Last week she visited San Francisco and dined at this lovely restaurant called The Plant Café. One of the items on their lunch menu is a “Dino Kale” salad which features dino kale, arugula, red quinoa, cherry tomatoes, avocado, carrots, cucumbers, toasted almonds and a lemon cumin vinaigrette.
I can’t think back to a time when I did not crave some hip and trendy plant-based meal from a California-based restaurant. This was one of those times where I thought to myself, “Why don’t you just gather the ingredients listed and make it yourself?” I often have this thought whenever I gaze at the Café Gratitude menu online dreaming about how I wish I had a vegan entree covered in cashew cheeze in front of my face. #goals
Luckily I had avocado, quinoa, tomatoes, arugula and almonds on hand this morning as I was making lunch so I winged it and incorporated my tempeh ever-so-carefully. The results were BRILLIANT. Because I did not have the exact recipe for The Plant Café‘s vinaigrette, I used a dressing I thought would be appropriate: Creamy Remoulade Dressing with Dill Pickles from the brand Hilary’s Eat Well. Combined with the diced almonds and still-not-quite-ripe avocado chunks, this salad was a dream come true. Straight out of heaven.
For this salad, I cooked the tempeh (1/3 of a package) as previously described (400º for 15 minutes with a dash of olive oil) and compiled the other ingredients:
- 1/2 a small avocado
- 1/2 cup pre-cooked quinoa
- 1/4 cup almonds
- 1 cup arugula
- 1/3 cup organic yellow cherry tomatoes
This dish is so rich in flavor thanks to the almonds and avocados that by just a small drizzling of dressing, your ingredients are glazed over but not soaked. If you don’t have a dressing on hand, a dash of olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice would pair well.
Other ways I love to use tempeh? Marinated it in a dash of maple syrup + a dash of tamari (soy sauce) or any other pre-bottled marinades that catch my eye at Whole Foods. When using with tamari I like to prepare my tempeh in a stir-fry dish or I opt for seasoning it with salt and pepper, topping it with tahini and hummus and throwing it in between two slices of bread. The versatile options are truly endless!
Do you have a favorite meat-free dish or have used tempeh in the past/have a favorite way of preparing it? I’d love to know!
*This post was not sponsored by any links mentioned above. All opinions are my own. I only represent brands I love and trust.*