Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Balsamic Tempeh

This dish really packs in the flavor. I'm a big fan of a tasty balsamic reduction, and this is just right. One cooking method I looked to for inspiration recommended a longer marinating time, and I don't doubt that in improving the flavor of this dish.

I recently re-adventured into the world of tempeh. Up until recently I've avoided it at all costs, as I have found that all things bean have caused me extreme stomach pains. (Sorry if that's too much information, but really, that might explain the lack of bean-age on this site.) In researching tempeh I found that the pre-fermenting of this high-protein non-animal source makes it easy on digestion and ideal for people with IBS-like symptoms. Holla! I'm glad to have re-discovered this vegetarian treat because I really enjoy tempeh and its lightly nutty texture. This dish could be paired beautifully with polenta or a nice quinoa pilaf for a complete meal.

I chose to enjoy this dish as a salad colored with sautéed onions and thinly sliced carrot sticks, crisp red pepper, toasted almonds, chopped dates, feta, and a creamy balsamic vinaigrette. A simple yet complex combination of sweetness complimented by a vinegary bite, a chewy mouthful with a bit of crunch, this salad quickly brought me to my knees. I was in love.

The Edibles:
  • olive oil cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth, chicken broth, or water
  • 1 T. dijon mustard
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • light shake of onion salt
  • generous shake of dried oregano
  • generous shake of dried basil (fresh would be marvelous if you have some on hand)
  • generous shake of garlic powder (or one clove of fresh, pressed/minced garlic)
  • fresh ground pepper (as much as you like)
  • 1 package tempeh, cut into 1 inch by 1 inch chunks
The Making:
  1. In a shallow bowl or large plastic bag mix all ingredients together up through the fresh ground pepper. Add the tempeh and stir around (or shake the bag) until the tempeh appears well covered with the sauce.
  2. Marinade anywhere between 1 hour to overnight.
  3. Heat a medium saute pan on medium. Spray with olive oil spray and once it's heated, empty tempeh and sauce into the pan. You can test the pan's readiness by dropping/dipping a piece of bread into the oil and see if it sizzles--I saw it on a cooking show once and it's a tried-and-true method!
  4. Let the tempeh cook and the sauce reduce for 3-5 minutes. Turn the tempeh over (yes, each piece individually) after this time, and let it cook for another 2 minutes or so. After this time, the sauce will become quite thick and may be almost non-existent. It will stick to the tempeh, so stir it gently so as to ensure it's fully covered. I chose to cook the tempeh for a minute or two longer so as to really brown the edges.
  5. Once sauced and browned, your tempeh is ready for devouring!


  1. Mmm! I've never eaten tempeh before! We marinated it overnight and served it in a salad, as recommended. Next time I might cut the tempeh smaller, maybe 3/4" square?

    Estimates for cooking times for both this recipe and Jay's fries have been significantly too short for me. Perhaps time runs faster in Pennsylvania?

  2. Glad I popped your tempeh cherry!

    As far as cooking times, I would hazard a guess that I underestimate my time simply because time runs fast here in Chicago while I'm running around doing a bazillion things.

    Then again, you may just need a new oven. (Ours is a convection.)