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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. We love vegetables, so eating enough has never been a problem. Replacing proteins is the tricky part. My gang has never embraced tofu, so today I am trying something new to us: tempeh. Have you ever tried it?
First, what is tempeh?
Tempeh is a soybean-based protein that originated in Indonesia. It’s really good, keep reading! Tempeh 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 its 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.
What do you do with Tempeh?
Like tofu, tempeh 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 of winter like we are here in the Midwest and you’re not inclined to stand outside with your smoker, you can still get the same 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 to or below your pan of tempeh. It will infuse the tempeh with a smoky flavor (and make your house smell like a spa).
Panko Crusted Tempeh
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
- 1 tsp. tamari or soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp. ground flax
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- salt+ pepper
- 1 tsp. dried parsley
- Vegetable oil for frying (or you can spray with olive oil and bake in a 400°F oven until golden brown for a healthier option.)
- Prepare all three bowls. In bowl number two, you are looking for the consistency of pancake batter, which may require additional water.
- Slice the tempeh into quarter-inch slices. Place the sliced tempeh in bowl number one and let it marinate for 10 to 15 minutes or up to two hours in the refrigerator. Once you have finished marinating, move one or two pieces at a time into bowls 2 and 3, consecutively to batter and bread each piece of tempeh.
- Heat your vegetable oil. Fry the breaded tempeh until golden brown. Serve immediately. These can also be baked or air fried for a healthier option.
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
- 1 blood orange, cut into segments
- 2 Tbsp. pomegranate seeds
- Breaded tempeh ( see recipe above)
- Pecorino or Parmesan cheese for garnish (omit to make the recipe vegan)
For the Dressing
- 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 2-3 tbsp. lemon juice, plus some zest
- 1 tsp. honey or agave
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- Sea salt and fresh black pepper
- 2 tbsp. tahini
- 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 a tbsp. of olive oil. Using your hands massage the oil into the kale leaves to tenderize the kale.
- Add all additional salad ingredients except the tempeh and toss.
- Place on your platter, then top with pieces of the fried tempeh. Drizzle with dressing and ENJOY. Add cheese to garnish. ( omit for a vegan option)