Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Attempting Tasty Tempeh

Say that quickly 10 times I dare you.  Continuing on my goal to increase our meat free meals, I took on tempeh for the first time.  Originating in Indonesia, tempeh is made from fermented soybeans and formed into a solid cake, it is a rich source of protein and isoflavones.  You can make your own tempeh at home but for my first time around I purchased a pre-made patty from Trader Joe's, this version also had added grains.  I didn't have any idea when I bought the tempeh how I was going to cook it but then again this is usually how things go when I am in the kitchen.  I had remembered seeing a recipe a while back that involved putting the tempeh into a mixer and pulsing to create a tempeh crumble, almost like a ground meat, and this seemed like a good idea to base my meal around.  I decided to turn this ground tempeh into tasty tempeh chili, I figured this would be a good way to really kick up the flavors of the tempeh and to see how they adapted to this new-to-me protein.  My chili recipe went like this:

1 tempeh patty
1 can of kidney beans
l large can of tomatoes, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp of jalapeno, minced
1 roasted red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup of beer (you could omit this if you desire but the beer adds nice flavor to the chili)
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp cayenne
salt and pepper to taste

I broke the tempeh patty into chunks and placed it in the mixer with 1 tbsp of the chili powder, I thought this might help incorporate the chili flavor into the temeph "meat."  Pulse a couple times until you have a mixture that looks like ground meat.  Next I sauteed the onions, garlic, and jalapeno for 3 minutes then added in the remaining ingredients.  Chili is one of those dishes that only gets more flavorful and delicious with time so I let this simmer while I made my sides, since you don't have any raw meat in this dish it could be done in a few minutes but I suggest simmering it for at least 15 to let the flavors come together.  Season with salt and pepper to your liking.

I served the chili over spaghetti squash and topped it with a dollop of guacamole.  For a side I baked up a skillet of agave cornbread.  That was my attempt at tempeh and I believe I will be attempehing it again ; )

*Update: some of you have asked for the agave cornbread recipe I used for this meal, so here it is below.  I adapted it from the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion maple cornbread recipe.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk (milk or buttermilk)
1/4 cup agave syrup
4 tablespoons butter (melted)
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 425 and lightly grease a 9 inch pan or skillet.  Mix together dry ingredients in a medium bowl, next mix together wet ingredients in a small bowl.  Combine wet ingredients with dry ingredients and mix until incorporated.  Pour into baking vessel.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.


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