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Many dishes using tempeh

Many people are intimidated by tempeh, even tofu-loving folks. Made from fermented soybeans, this plant-based food is often sold in patties and, like tofu, readily absorbs spices, marinades, and other flavors.

Wondering how to cook with this plant-based protein? Here are some easy recipes to incorporate tempeh into your favorite dishes.

Tempeh Burrito Bowl

Two bowls of tempeh burrito bowls

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Makes four servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup brown rice, rinsed
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt, divided
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/4 tsp. lime zest
  • 2 tbs. chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 8 oz. organic tempeh
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup diced yellow onion
  • 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup frozen roasted corn
  • 1/2 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 2 avocados, sliced

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a medium pot, bring water to a boil. Add rice and return to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 45 minutes.
  2. Once rice is cooked, fluff with a fork. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, lime juice and zest, and 2 tablespoons of cilantro, and stir. Set aside.
  3. Place a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and add vegetable broth. Use your hands to crumble the tempeh into the broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for eight to 10 minutes, until lightened in color and slightly soft.
  4. In a small bowl, mix chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, and remaining ½ teaspoon of salt until combined.
  5. Once the tempeh is finished boiling, strain from the pan and return the empty pan to medium heat. Add olive oil, garlic, and onions, and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent.
  6. Add tempeh and spice mix to the pan and stir until the tempeh is coated with the spice mix. Continuing cooking, stirring frequently until tempeh is heated through and begins to become golden and crispy, about six to seven minutes.
  7. Add black beans and corn to a second saucepan over medium-low heat. Cover and cook until heated through, about three to four minutes.
  8. To each bowl, add rice, tempeh, black beans and corn, grape tomatoes, and avocado. Garnish with cilantro and serve warm with lime wedges and hot sauce, if desired.

Teriyaki Tempeh Stir Fry 

A bowl of stir fry made with tempeh

Prep time: 35 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
Makes four servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup brown rice, rinsed
  • 2 cups vegetable broth, divided
  • 8 oz. organic tempeh, cubed
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tbs. honey
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced white onion
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
  • 2 baby bok choy, quartered
  • 1/2 cup chopped cashews
  • 2 green onions, sliced

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a medium pot, bring water to a boil. Add rice and return to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 45 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
  2. Place a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and add 1½ cups vegetable broth, then add tempeh and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer for eight to 10 minutes, until lightened in color and slightly soft.
  3. Strain tempeh and place in a shallow bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk soy sauce or tamari, remaining ½ cup of vegetable broth, honey, sesame oil, ginger, garlic powder, and cayenne until combined. Pour mixture over tempeh and allow to marinate for 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Place a large saucepan over medium heat, then add olive oil and allow to heat until shimmering. Use a slotted spoon to remove tempeh from the marinade and add to the hot pan, setting the leftover marinade aside. Brown the tempeh until crispy and golden, about two to three minutes per side.
  5. Once the tempeh is golden, add white onion, carrots, and bok choy. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables soften slightly, about two to three minutes.
  6. In a separate pan, add rice and remaining marinade and stir until combined. Cook, stirring frequently, until rice is evenly coated with the marinade and excess liquid evaporates, about two to three minutes.
  7. To each bowl, add rice and vegetable-tempeh mixture. Garnish with chopped cashews and sliced green onions.

Moroccan-Spiced Tempeh 

A bowl of cous cous and Moroccan-spiced tempeh

Prep time: 35 minutes
Cook time: 55 minutes
Makes four servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large eggplant, diced
  • 3 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/3 cup pearl couscous
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 8 oz. organic tempeh, sliced into strips
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, diced
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp. clove
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

DIRECTIONS

  1. Lightly salt eggplant and place in a strainer in the sink. Allow eggplant to drain for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper.
  3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil until shimmering. Add couscous and toast, stirring, until fragrant and golden brown, about five minutes.
  4. Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 12 to 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
  5. Place a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and add vegetable broth, then add tempeh and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer for eight to 10 minutes [same cue as above].
  6. Strain tempeh and place in a large mixing bowl with the sweet potatoes. Toss tempeh and sweet potatoes in 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, and nutmeg until evenly coated.
  7. Add tempeh and sweet potatoes in a single layer to the lined sheet pan and bake for 25 minutes.
  8. Line a second half-sheet pan with parchment paper. Pat eggplant dry with a kitchen towel and place eggplant and tomatoes on the sheet pan. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  9. To each plate, add couscous, tempeh, and roasted vegetables. Top with chopped apricots and enjoy warm.

Veggie-Loaded Tempeh Chili

A bowl of tempeh chili

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Makes 12 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 medium jalapeños, seeded and minced
  • 16 oz. organic tempeh
  • 2 tbs. chili powder
  • 1 tbs. cumin
  • 1 tbs. smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 large sweet potato, cubed
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 2 28 oz. cans whole plum tomatoes
  • 16 oz. frozen corn
  • 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Sliced jalapeños, thinly sliced radishes, and/or lime wedges, to garnish

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place a large stockpot over medium heat, then add olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add onions and jalapeños and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent and jalapeños are tender, about four to five minutes.
  2. Crumble tempeh by hand into the stockpot, then add chili powder, cumin, paprika, and salt. Stir until veggies and tempeh are coated with spice mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tempeh is browned and fragrant, about three to five minutes.
  3. Add remaining ingredients to the stockpot and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sweet potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes.
  4. Serve warm and garnish with thinly sliced radishes and sliced jalapeños.

For the slow cooker:

  1. Crumble tempeh by hand into a slow cooker along with olive oil, chili powder, cumin, paprika, and salt. Stir until spices are mixed and coating the tempeh.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and stir until combined.
  3. Cover and cook on high for three hours, or on low for six hours, until sweet potatoes are fork tender.
  4. Serve warm and garnish with thinly sliced radishes, sliced jalapeños, and lime wedges.

Tempeh Meatballs With Zoodles and Pesto

A bowl of zucchini noodles with pesto and tempeh meatballs

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Makes four servings

INGREDIENTS

Meatballs

  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 8 oz. organic tempeh
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbs. finely chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Pesto

  • 1 cup tightly packed chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tbs. grated Parmesan
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or cashews
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 3 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

Base

  • 3/4 cup grape tomatoes
  • 1 large zucchini, spiralized
  • 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella balls
  • Fresh basil, to garnish

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and add vegetable broth, then crumble tempeh by hand into the pan. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to simmer for eight to 10 minutes, until lightened in color and slightly soft.
  2. Prepare pesto by adding fresh basil, Parmesan, garlic, cashews, and salt to a food processor. Pulse until ingredients are roughly chopped, then add olive oil and blend to form a paste.
  3. Prepare meatballs by draining the cooked tempeh and adding it to a blender or food processor along with the egg, oats, salt, pepper, fresh basil, and 2 tablespoons of pesto. Blend until the mixture sticks together when pressed between your fingers. Be careful not to overmix.
  4. Use your hands to form the tempeh mixture into balls, about 2 tablespoons each.
  5. Place a large skillet over medium heat, then add olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add meatballs to the skillet four at a time and cook until lightly crisped and golden, about three minutes per side. Remove from pan and set aside, then repeat with remaining meatballs.
  6. Remove the last batch of meatballs from the pan and set aside. Add grape tomatoes to the pan and cook until softened, about five minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Add spiralized zucchini to the pan with the remaining pesto and gently toss until coated. Cook zucchini until just heated through, about two to three minutes. Be careful not to overcook.
  8. To each plate, add zucchini, then top with meatballs and fresh mozzarella. Garnish with fresh basil and serve warm.

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