Here we are, a week past Thanksgiving and I have finally made the time to post. It has been super busy here. There too I bet! We’ve had visitors, we bought a condo, we had school stuff…you get it. In this busy time of year, I’m not going to lie, there have been short cuts. First it starts off as pasta with jar sauce (not bad). Then there’s the “hot dog” roll up (I’ll tell you later). Finally it’s take out. Mmmm.
Well, there’s a product I like to keep in my kitchen for times like these. Maybe you’ve heard of it or seen it on a menu. Tempeh. Tempeh is fermented soybeans. If you don’t already love it I can’t say I’m selling it that well now…keep reading. The best qualities of tempeh are that it keeps for a really long time in your fridge, it’s great for you having all those probiotic things, it seasons really well and it’s so fast to fix. Warming up to it yet?
So it usually comes all shrink wrapped in a patty, shaped in a rectangle or square. Make sure when you buy it that you read the ingredients closely because they like to add other things that make it not gluten free. Just be careful. The ingredient list should be short and readable. The best way I’ve found to get it out of this wrapping is to cut it straight down the middle and then pop out both sides by pushing from the ends.
After you examine it more closely, don’t be afraid of some darkening or whitish areas. These are normal for the fermented properties. The tempeh is similar to tofu in that it can be cut or crumbled in many different ways. The benefit of tempeh over tofu is that tempeh is much less processed than tofu. It also provides more protein than tofu. Yay protein.
So, like I was saying before. There are several ways to slice the tempeh. Here are two ways you will often see it in my kitchen. I also like to crumble it when making things like tacos and additions to sauce. Experiment around with it. I have also done it in large slabs to mock steak like portions. It’s very easy to slice as long as you keep your knife level so the slices are equal sizes.
The tempeh at this point is pretty dense and tasteless. That is easy to change. When cooking it, I always try to place the cut sides down in order to get all the flavors in the freshly cut pieces. Steaming the tempeh a little before has worked for me but it’s not the quickest way and these days, that’s what is necessary.
Tempeh cooks great in a cast iron skillet. I have a well seasoned one and it is a staple in my kitchen. It is easy to clean and offers consistent results. Here I cooked the tempeh until golden brown and just tossed in fresh herbs. Cooked in vegan butter adds such a nice richness and saltiness. Delicious. This process takes about 5 minutes. You can serve it as an entree as a side or as part of a larger dish like a sandwich.
Another favorite way to cook tempeh is by browning it and then adding soy sauce. It is so easy. That’s it. Brown and add. Not only is it probably way healthier than our current take out options, it is way faster. Hello…I’m not kidding here. This style of tempeh is great as a faux bacon, as a side dish or added to a stir fry.
So there you have it, lots of excuses and two quick answers. Bottom line is, I’m busy and you’re busy. We’re all busy. I’m sick of take out and half prep meals. Here are two ways to prepare tempeh (go get some if you haven’t tried it) so you can give yourself a break every once in a while.
Let me know if you try these recipes. Again, it keeps for a long time in the fridge unopened so you’ve got lots of time to get the courage. I promise you won’t be disappointed.