You’re probably familiar with foods made from soybeans like soy sauce, tofu and soymilk, but have you ever tried tempeh? It’s an Indonesian soybean food with an earthy flavor and a meaty, tender texture very similar to mushrooms. The beans are cracked, cooked, then cultured for 18-24 hours, after which the soybeans bind together into a cake-like structure. Culturing transforms the soybeans into a more easily digestible food, loaded with protein, vitamins, minerals and enzymes.
Because tempeh is made from the whole soybean, it contains all of the bean’s naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. The hearty flavor of this versatile plant protein makes tempeh an ideal vegetarian ingredient and a good substitute for meat in many recipes.
These days, it’s easy to find a wide array of tempeh flavors and types, including plain, grilled or barbecued. Sometimes grains such as wild rice, amaranth, brown rice or quinoa, or sesame seeds and sea vegetables are added to the soybeans before fermentation for a variety of flavors and textures. Try tempeh in soups, stews, sandwiches, Asian dishes, salads and stir-fries, or with noodles, rice, potatoes or hamburger-style on a bun with all the trimmings. Enjoy these tempeh tips and recipes:
- Crumble and add to spaghetti sauce.
- Thinly slice, marinate in tamari, ginger and garlic. Grill and serve as a sandwich or panini.
- Cube and add to stir fries, soups or stews. Enjoy this Tempeh Stir-Fry, this Tempeh and Root Vegetable Stew and this Southwest Tempeh Stew.
- Marinate and roast or bake in the oven at 375°F for 1 1/2 hours.
- Sauté in sesame oil and serve over brown rice or Asian-style noodles.
- Add to grain or noodle salads. Try it as an addition to potato salad.
- Substitute tempeh for meat in many recipes such as spaghetti and meatballs, beef stew, chicken or pork cutlets, kabobs, etc. Here are Grilled Tempeh Kabobs, Marinated Tempeh Cutlets and Filipino-style Tempeh Adobo.
- If you are a fan of Beef Stroganoff, you’ll appreciate this delicious Tempeh and Mushroom Stroganoff.
- Here’s a recipe for a fabulous veggie hamburger: Grilled Tempeh Burgers!
- Try Tempeh Bell Pepper Chili. This delicious dish features kidney beans, spices and tempeh.
- Love a good, hearty salad? Here’s a version of Tempeh Nicoise and here’s a delicious Tempeh and Vegetable Salad with Miso Tahini Dressing.
- If you crave curry, you’ve got to check out our healthy Let’s Cook: Tempeh Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans video.
- Make tempeh tacos, tostados, enchiladas and Grilled Tempeh and Mushroom Quesadillas.
- Pair tempeh with potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, noodles, quinoa, millet or buckwheat. This recipe for Baked Rice and Tempeh Casserole has Jasmine rice, garlic and shallots. This recipe for Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Tempeh is flavored with mirin, tamari, cinnamon and ginger.
- Love quiche? Try this Portobello and Broccoli Quiche with Tempeh.
- This fall and winter, consider serving tempeh with cold-weather veggies like this Italian-Style Spaghetti Squash with Tempeh. You can also crumble tempeh and sauté it with veggies, then stuff into hollowed-out acorn squash and bake until the squash is tender.
- Crumble over pizza in place of sausage.
Remember, tempeh’s flavor is a little unique if you’re not used to it. Consider trying marinated tempeh burgers or tempeh “bacon” to start, or marinate with any number of our delicious marinades and barbeque sauces.
Have you tried tempeh? Got a favorite recipe? Let me know.