Tempeh - if you haven't tried it before - is a beautiful meat-substitute for the plant-based eater. It offers a ton of valuable health benefits:
- a crazy amount of protein: one serving is 41% of the recommended daily intake. Because protein breaks down slowly in the body, it provides us with better, longer-lasting fuel.
- protein helps to stabilize blood sugar. Less crashing during the day, fewer cravings, more energy!
- fermented soy is the best way to consume soy. The fermentation process creates beneficial bacteria that aid in digestion and immunity, and the process of making tempeh leaves valuable nutrients intact. Fermented soy (which also includes miso) requires less tampering than tofu or soy milk.
- lowers cholesterol. Not only because substituting it in for meat on occasion means we're ingesting less cholesterol to begin with, the fiber in tempeh actually binds to cholesterol during digestion, meaning that less is absorbed and more leaves the body via the GI tract.
It's also super versatile and takes on any flavor you add to it. My go-to recipe (great if you're making a batch to have handy for meals through the week) is Unbelievably Vegan Tempeh. I also like to make a little stir-fried version, like the one in this skillet recipe. There are also a ton of great ideas over at Oh My Veggies' Potluck site. It's a great resource in general. (Unbelievably Vegan Tempeh is featured on there, too!)
What makes tempeh so awesome is that - with a little cajoling, or perhaps the beauty of omission - the meat-eaters in your life are likely to get on board with it!It's a great way to work in a meatless meal each week.
This version below is a quick preparation for a weeknight meal that also stores well in the fridge. I'm into batch-cooking, in case you couldn't tell. This was the first time I tried braising these little guys and it turned out well! (Braising = frying lightly, then stewing in liquid to finish.)
Once tempeh is browned, as shown, add 1/4 cup of the marinade back in, cover and let cook 4-5 minutes more.
We served these with roasted squash [which is absolutely in vogue at our place these days - I'm obsessed and so happy that the squash from the fall continue to be in season. Hurray for robust veggies!]
- 1 block tempeh, cut into six pieces
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 tbsp brown rice miso
- 2 tbsp tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
- 1 tsp garlic granules
- 2 leeks, washed and sliced into 1/4" pieces
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1. Boil tempeh in a pot of water for 10 minutes. Remove from water and pat dry.
- 2. Meanwhile, combine apple cider vinegar, miso, tamari, and garlic in a container with a tight-fitting lid.
- 3. Transfer warm tempeh to the marinade, secure lid, and gently shake to coat the tempeh. Let sit for 10 minutes.
- 4. While tempeh marinates, wash and slice leeks and mince garlic.
- 5. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and garlic; sautee for 2-3 minutes until softened. Garlic may start to brown slightly.
- 6. Move leeks and garlic to side of the skillet and place tempeh in skillet. Reserve marinade.
- 7. Cook each side for 2-3 minutes until browned.
- 8. Reduce heat to medium-low and slowly pour in 1/4 cup of the marinade. Stir leeks and garlic so they mix with tempeh and marinade.
- 9. Cover and let cook for 4-5 minutes until most of the marinade is absorbed.
- 10. Remove from heat and use tongs/ a slotted spoon to remove tempeh and leeks, leaving any remaining liquid in the pan. Serve!
- Pairs wonderfully with brown rice, sauteed greens, or roasted squash.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator.