Last week I talked about different processed meat substitutions, like Quorn and Textured Vegetable Protein. This week, I’d like to play around with one of my favorite natural soy protein sources: tempeh, a traditional soy product from Indonesia. (I pronounce it “TEM-pay”).
I know the package can look a little scary, but really its just fermented whole soy beans. Tempeh is more dense and textured than tofu. It has a nice nutty, grainy flavor and can be eaten on its own or combined into recipes that might otherwise call for meat. The most basic way I use tempeh is to cut it into strips and include it in my stir fry dishes (instead of tofu or chicken).
I like to substitute tempeh for beef when making sloppy joes. You can either finely dice it or shred it, saute in a little olive oil, and then add your sloppy joe sauce (canned or homemade). Serve it on a bun and call it dinner! Tempeh can be substituted for sliced beef in a Philly Cheese Steak or I also enjoy it doused in BBQ sauce and served on a roll with some cole slaw. I almost forgot to include the Tempeh Reuben topped with sauerkraut on rye bread!
One of my all time favorites is the “Tempeh Burger” . This turns out the tastiest if you throw all calorie caution to the wind and actually deep fry the tempeh patty (Just cut the packaged piece into 3 burger size squares. I like to slice it in half through the middle lengthwise also, making it half as thick, and stack the 2 thinner pieces together instead of biting into a big hunk.) It can be lightly sautéed or grilled for a healthier option. Top with cheese, lettuce, onion, pickles, and tomato and serve on a grilled bun as you would a hamburger.
If you are feeling even more adventurous, here is a stuffed pepper recipe that you can try! (editor’s note: i am writing up this recipe from memory and may have some quantities out of whack…i’ll make it again this week and actually write down my measurements and make any adjustments as needed. i really wanted to include the recipe in the tempeh conversation this week though! please check back for any changes at the end of the week.)
Recipe: Tempeh Stuffed Peppers
4 Green Peppers
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
1 package tempeh, any flavor, finely diced or shredded
1 small onion
1 tablespoon oil
1 can diced tomatoes in juice
1 jar marinara or spaghetti sauce (I like Newman’s Own without the high fructose corn syrup)
1 cup shredded mozzarella, pepper jack, or cheddar cheese (optional)
basil, oregano, salt, pepper to taste
Prepare about 2 cups of rice per instructions on box or bag (I use a rice cooker to save time). Pre-heat oven to 350.
Bring a pan of water to a boil. Clean green peppers and cut off tops, cleaning out seeds from inside. Parboil peppers in boiling water for about 5 minutes. Remove, let drain and slightly cool.
Saute finely diced onion and tempeh in oil. Mix in canned tomatoes, including juice. Stir in cooked rice. Add additional seasonings to taste (basil, oregano, salt, etc). You can add a little of the jarred marinara to make it saucier if desired.
Scoop mixture into green peppers. Place green peppers into a baking dish. Cover with remaining marinara or sauce and sprinkle cheese (optional) over the top. Bake for 15-20 minutes.