Tips and tricks for cooking with tempeh, plus a delicious recipe for Maple Balsamic Tempeh Bowls with creamy pumpkin rice and steamed broccoli.
Well folks, I think I’ve done it… I’ve found the best tempeh recipe!
Here she is, in all her marinated glory, on a bed of pumpkin coconut rice with a little steamed broccoli and hemp parmesan on the side.
In all seriousness, this maple balsamic tempeh is absolute tempeh PERFECTION. Isaac said that it’s his favorite tempeh recipe I’ve ever made and it’s definitely one of my favorites as well. Marinating the tempeh for a few hours in a maple balsamic glaze gives the tempeh a sweet, savory and absolutely delectable sauce that thickens up as you pan sauté it. Paired with a bowl of pumpkin rice and broccoli, it’s a meal fit for a queen (or king).
I’m basically obsessed and want to eat it for every meal… which actually happened a couple weeks ago.
So let’s talk about tempeh for a sec. Have you tried it? Do you love it?
I’m always surprised when I talk to folks who haven’t tried tempeh yet (eschpeially those that are vegan/vegetarian). You guys are missing out! Let me break down the tempeh basics for those that new to tempeh.
What is tempeh?
Well, it’s a plant-based protein made of cooked soybeans (think edamame) that have been fermented. The fermentation process binds the soybeans into a cake/patty, which is what you’ll find at your local grocery store. It’s similar to tofu, however there are some differences – tempeh is less processed, fermented, has a stronger flavor and has a bit more texture. The flavor is usually described as nutty or earthy, but there are different varieties with subtle taste differences. I’ve tried a ton of different tempeh varieties and Lightlife is definitely my favorite for a few reasons: it’s organic, gmo-free and easy to find a mainstream stores. I gravitate towards the Three Grain variety because it is the mildest in terms of taste, but I like the Original, Garden Veggie, Wild Rice and Flax too!
Packaged tempeh is pre-cooked so you can easily enjoy it right from the package (on sandwiches, salads, etc), but for extra flavor I highly recommend marinating it ahead of time. Another option is to steam it before eating. Steaming for about 12-15 minutes before using it in your recipe mellows the flavor and makes it even more digestible. I find the extra step of steaming unnecessary so I just marinate it with a good sauce (usually for a couple hours or overnight) and cook it up either by pan-sautéing or baking it. Like tofu, tempeh absorbs a ton of flavor from it’s marinade!
Added benefits: tempeh is fermented and has a fungus called rhizopus oligosporus which produces an antibiotic that is effective against certain bacterias. The protein and nutrients in the soybeans are easier to digest after the fermentation process and tempeh is less likely to cause gas or indigestion. Always a plus, amirite?
I personally love cooking with tempeh because it cooks up quickly (perfect for weeknight meals), easily takes on whatever seasonings you’re using and it’s loaded with protein (1 cup = 31 grams).
Want to try it for yourself?
You’re in luck because I have a ton of easy tempeh recipes already here on EBF for you and as I mentioned, the recipe I’m sharing today is one of my absolute favorites. And it’s SO easy. You simply marinate your tempeh (anywhere from 1-24 hours depending on how much time you have). Cook your rice with coconut milk and pumpkin. While the rice is cooking, sauté your tempeh and steam some broccoli. Put everything together for one epic bowl meal and enjoy. I have a feeling that once you try this dish you’ll fall in love with tempeh and want to make it again and again!
Remove tempeh from package and chop into small triangles by cutting the tempeh in half width-wise. Cut each half in a star pattern to get 16 mini triangles per package of tempeh, 32 triangles total.
In a small bowl combine maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, tamari, 2 teaspoons oil and minced garlic. Add tempeh triangles into a shallow dish with a large surface area, pour maple balsamic marinade over the tempeh, toss to coat and let tempeh marinate in the fridge for 1 – 24 hours. Stir the mixture a couple times while marinating, if possible.
Once tempeh has marinated, start cooking the rice by combining the coconut milk, vegetable broth, pumpkin, rice and sea salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Allow rice to simmer until the liquid is completely absorbed and rice is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Once cooked, stir, cover and set aside until the tempeh and broccoli are ready as well.
While the rice is cooking, pan-glaze the tempeh by heating 1 Tablespoon avocado oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add the tempeh (without pouring the marinade in) and cook until golden brown on each side, allowing 4-5 minutes per side. Pour the maple balsamic mixture into the pan with the tempeh and simmer another 5-7 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced creating a glaze on the tempeh. Toss the tempeh a couple times during this process.
Steam broccoli and compile bowls by starting with a base of pumpkin rice. Top each bowl with pan-glazed tempeh and steamed broccoli. Season with salt and pepper to taste and top each bowl with hemp parmesan, if using.