Mediterranean Tempeh is an economical dish that’s made with tempeh, a staple of Indonesian cuisine for centuries. It is a cultured food made with soybeans. It is cultured like cheese, yogurt, miso, and sauerkraut. Because the soybeans have been culture, the proteins are predigested and the B vitamins are increased. It is high in protein and minerals, full of B12, and contains as much protein as chicken or beef. It’s also cholesterol-free and low in fat.
If you’re a vegetarian or planning to eat less meat, tempeh is definitely worth including in your diet for all the nutrition this ancient food contains.
During our vegetarian days, my husband and I relied on tempeh as one of our sources of protein. We also ate tempeh to make sure we were getting our supply of B12.
Mediterranean Tempeh is the perfect combination of an ancient cultured food and summer’s bounty—tempeh, tomatoes and basil. This recipe has taken me several months to get the right blend of ingredients. It has just the right combination of herbs to give it that Mediterranean essence. Savoring this dish brought back memories of sun drench days on the Riviera overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Each bite was a refreshing reminder of my carefree days by the sea.
Tempeh comes in 8 ounce packages. It can be purchased from the health food store. It must be cooked before it’s eaten. It has a nutty flavor. I’ve been working on adjusting the nutty flavor to balance with the flavors of the rest of the ingredients in this recipe. On one occasion I added more balsamic vinegar, but everything became too sour. The next time, I added more grape tomatoes. The tomatoes tasted sweet and delicious, but its sweetness didn’t permeate the tempeh.
It finally dawned on me that the tempeh needed to be sweetened. But with what? Sugar was definitely out. Honey? Agave? Maple Syrup? No, these sweeteners were the wrong flavors for the taste combination I wanted to achieve in this dish. Finally, after much consideration, I tried organic apple juice as my sweetener. It so happened that I had some left over organic apple juice in the fridge. The apple juice sweetened the tempeh and mellowed its nutty flavor, exactly what my taste buds imagined.
Place the cubed tempeh in a quarter cup of apple juice in a covered pot and let it simmer for twenty minutes. Let the apple juice cook off. Place the tempeh in a non-reactive bowl and let it cool off.
While the tempeh is cooling, in a separate non-reactive bowl, make the dressing. Combine two cloves of minced garlic with center shoots removed, one teaspoon of oregano, one quarter cup of balsamic vinegar, one tablespoon of lime juice, four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and half the amount of basil leaves torn or thinly cut (total 32). Whisk all the ingredients together and let stand.
After the the tempeh is cooled, break the tempeh into small pieces. In the same non-reactive bowl, combine one half of the organic feta cheese (4 oz.), one pint of grape or cherry tomatoes sliced into halves, and two thirds cup of sliced pitted black olives.
I tried kalamata olives previously, but they have a slightly bitter taste and brought out the bitter favor in the tempeh and dominated the dish. Use the water cured black olives sold loose or in glass bottles. The flavor of the water cured black olives remains in the background and allows all the other flavors to harmonize.
Toss all the all the ingredients. Whisk the dressing and pour over the tempeh, tomato, feta, olive mixture. Toss. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish each serving with the other half of the crumbled feta and sliced or torn fresh basil leaves.
8 oz. package of plain tempeh
1/4 cup of organic apple juice
1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
8 oz. of feta cheese, crumbled (reserve 1/2 for garnish)
2/3 cup of water cured black olives (pitted), sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced with shoots removed
1 teaspoon of oregano
1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon of lime juice
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
32 fresh basil leaves, cut thinly or torn (reserve 1/2 for garnish)
1. Cube tempeh
2. Placed cubed tempeh in a covered pot with 1/4 cup of apple juice. Let simmer until all the apple juice is gone, about 20 minutes.
3. Place the tempeh in a non-reactive bowl and let cool.
4. While tempeh is cooling, make the dressing in another non-reactive bowl.
5. Whisk together minced garlic, oregano, balsamic vinegar, lime juice, and half the thinly sliced/torn basil leaves. Let stand.
6. Crumble tempeh.
7. To the tempeh, add half the crumbled the feta cheese, sliced cherry/grape tomatoes, and sliced black olives. Toss.
8. Whisk the dressing and pour onto the tempeh, feta, tomato, olive mixture. Toss.
9. Garnish each serving with reserved crumbled feta cheese and reserved sliced/torn fresh basil.
Enjoy! See you on the Riviera!
Modifications and suggestions: Mediterranean Tempeh can be served on a whole grain bun, as a wrap, or on whole grain bread. Carb types may add more tomatoes and olives. Protein types can add some sliced turkey or grass-fed beef on top of the salad. Vegans can eliminate the feta and use a soy or rice cheese.
Mediterranean Tempeh keeps well overnight. The leftovers are tastier the next day.
Mediterranean Tempeh, a frugal recipe combining tempeh, an ancient cultured food with summer’s bounty, fresh cherry tomatoes and fresh basil is featured in Pennywise Platter Thursday in the Nourishing Gourmet.
Copyright 2009 by Nurturing Wisdom