This year I am stepping out of my comfort zone and working with foods I feel will take us in a healthier direction. I am trying to incorporate more plant based options into our meals. My son Joe who is in his fourth year of Nursing school has adopted a healthier diet than he has ever had at home. He is attempting a plant free diet so this one is for him. We lall ove vegetables so eating enough has never been a problem. However, replacing proteins is the tricky part. My gang has never embraced tofu. Today I am trying something new to us. Tempeh, Have you ever tried tempeh?
First, what is tempeh?
Tempe is a soybean–based protein that originated in Indonesia. WAIT, It’s really good, keep reading! It typically comes in the form of a patty and some say it is healthier than tofu, because it is not only packed with protein but also contains a lot of fiber and a number of other nutrients. It is also fermented, which makes it easier to digest. Another way it differs from tofu is it flavor. It has a richer and nuttier taste and it also has more texture. It can be steamed, grilled, breaded, fried and even added to a stew. Tempeh, like tofu is as delicious as the ingredients that surround it. Today I am breading it to create a fried crispy addition to a kale salad. The texture and flavors will combine perfectly. Tempeh can also be grilled or even better smoked for a “meaty” feel and taste. If you are in the depths on winter like we are here in the Mid-West and youre not inclined to stand outside with your smoker you can still get the flavor in your kitchen. Add a few pieces of flavored wood chips, that have been soaked in water until saturated, to an aluminum pan covered with foil. I like cherry or apple because it gives a light smokey flavor unlike the heavy flavor of hickory. Vent the corner of the pan by lifting the foil. Place this pan in your oven next toor below your pan of tempeh. It will infuse the tempeh with a smokey flavor. (And make your house smell like a spa)
The Tempeh is first marinated then tossed in a combo of ground flax, flour and water. At first glance that seems mixture seems bland but it isn’t at all. The flax gives a delicious nutty flavor. Feel free to season the panko any way you like. I’ve kept it simple here but a bit of hot cayenne or bbq seasoning would be delicious.
Panko Crusted Tempeh
bowl number one
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
- 1 teaspoon tamari or soy sauce
Bowl number two
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon ground flax
- 1/2 cup water
Bowl number three
- One cup Panko breadcrumbs
- salt+ pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley.
Vegetable oil for frying. Or you can spray with olive oil and bake in a 400° oven until golden brown for a healthier option.
- Prepare all three bowls. in bowl number to let the ground flax settle. The better will thicken and may require additional water. You are looking for the consistency of pancake batter.
- Slice the tempeh into quarter inch slices please the sliced tempeh in the bowl number one and let marinate for 10 to 15 minutes or up to two hours in the refrigerator once marinating has finished Move one or two pieces at a time into number to Bowl two and three, batter each piece of Tempeh.
- Meanwhile heat your vegetable oil. Fry until golden brown. Serve immediately. These can also be baked or air fried for a healthier option.
For the dressing
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice, plus some zest
- 1 teaspoon honey or agave
- one garlic clove chopped
- sea salt and fresh black pepper
- 2 tablespoons tahini
For the salad
- 1 large bunch of kale
- extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
- 2-3 scallions chopped
- 1/4 cup toasted walnuts
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- one blood orange cut into segments
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
- Breaded Tempeh recipe below.
- piccorino or parmesean cheese for garnish (omit for vegan)
For the dressing, mix all the ingredients in a mason jar and shake vigorously. Add the washed kale with large stems and veins removed into a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, just about a tablespoon. using your hands massage the oil into the kale leaves. This will tenderize the kale. add all additions except the tempeh. Toss. Place on your platter then top with pieces of the fried tempeh. Drizzle with dressing and ENJOY. If not vegan, add cheese to garnish.
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