Learning to Love Tempeh

I am trying to love tempeh. Although I love all things tofu, and have been a vegetarian for almost 20 years, I just started eating tempeh a few years ago. I’m getting there. I don’t dislike tempeh, but it is an acquired taste, so to speak.

For the uninitiated, tempeh is made from fermented soybeans and is a good source of both protein and calcium, so it’s not only a good choice for vegetarians, it’s a great choice for vegans (but you meat eaters can enjoy and benefit from eating tempeh too!). It is most often found at the grocery store, in the natural foods section, in a cake-like form, vacuum packed and packaged in the cooler or freezer.

Tempeh has a strong, nutty, mushroom-like flavor that makes it quite versatile. It can be cut into cubes and stir-fried, sliced and grilled, or crumbled and used like ground beef. Since most packaged tempeh is pasteurized, it no longer has to be steamed before using like in the “old days,” although steaming does reduce the bitterness a little.

This week I experimented with tempeh stir-fry, using up some bell pepper, zucchini, carrots, cauliflower, and kale that was starting to wilt. I cut the tempeh into small squares and stir-fried the whole combination in a little peanut oil. Since the resident meat-eater isn’t a tempeh fan, I had to find a sauce that would make everyone happy, so I used the sauce recipe from General Tso’s ChickN found in  Homestyle Favorites Made Meatless. Among other things, it uses low-sodium tamari, wine vinegar, pineapple juice and fresh ginger and offers up a fresh, piquant flavor. The whole thing was served over steamed brown rice. The sauce was a perfect foil for the vegetables, and the nuttiness of the tempeh accentuated the nuttiness of the brown rice. Of course, the meal was unbelievably healthy too. And the left-overs went in the meat-eaters lunchbox the next day, so it was a hit all around.

So yesterday I bought another cake of tempeh. Any suggestions what I should make next?

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About the Author

Renee Pottle, an author and heart-healthy educator, loves to explore and write about the Mediterranean Diet. She blogs at SeedToPantry.com and HestiasKitchen.com.

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