A little while ago I confessed that I was in my twenties when I first tried tofu. Hmm. Funny thing. I’m in my thirties and I only just tried tempeh for the first time a few months ago. It’s always interesting to me that my picky eating was deeply rooted in fear. What if it didn’t taste good or the texture was wonky? I mean, it’s food. If I didn’t like it or the texture was strange I could either spit it out or try my best to swallow it and chase it with a glass of water. Tempeh…I dunno. I just didn’t know what it was. I didn’t “get” it. Frankly, I wasn’t even sure what it was. And now here I am making Tempeh Black Bean Vegan Taco Salad and about to tell you . . .
From now on, I need tempeh in my life always. I lurve it.
A few weeks ago I was working on some photos for Oh My Veggies and I cooked with tempeh for the first time. I also learned that I had been pronouncing it incorrectly. It’s not temp-ehh, it’s tem-pay. You learn something new every day! Anyway, I made Alissa’s Cuban Fried Quinoa with Black Beans and Smoky Tempeh and it instantly became my new favorite meal. It’s that good. I then decided to start buying tempeh to experiment with in my own kitchen. I think I get caught up in these boxes – I can only cook ______ food in ______ way because….because…..because, I don’t know? Tempeh in my mind needed to be prepared using Asian ingredients. Obviously that Cuban Fried Quinoa blew my mind and that misconception was out the door. I like tempeh with cumin and chili powder. I love the tang of the lime juice with the unique flavor of the fermented soy beans.
If you aren’t familiar with tempeh, it’s a fermented soy bean product that originated in Indonesia. I started reading about it and was completely fascinated with the fermentation process. Tempeh is very nutritious. It’s a great vegetarian source of Vitamin B12, as well as being high in protein, fiber, manganese and copper. (Source) Tempeh is a healthier choice than tofu in a lot of ways. (But we still eat tofu too!) I use plain soy tempeh but you can also find it fermented with grains like barley and millet. Trader Joe’s carries one.
Guys, you gotta try tempeh if you haven’t.
Tempeh has a nice nutty flavor and texture. It’s really unique – unless you taste it, there’s really nothing to compare it to. The fermentation process results in a firm cake that can be sliced or diced. I followed Alissa’s lead and marinated the tempeh before cooking it. I loved the smoky flavor in the other recipe, so I employed it in mine too. Besides the crispy marinated tempeh, this vegan taco salad is loaded up! Black beans, shredded lettuce, salsa, avocado, sour cream (or cashew sour cream in this case), and handful of tortilla chips. What could be better?
- For marinated tempeh:
- One 8-ounce package tempeh, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 2 Tablespoons grape seed oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- For salad:
- One 14-ounce can black beans, drained
- 1 small head of Romaine lettuce, shredded (can also use 1 bunch kale, shredded)
- 2 avocados, diced
- 1 cup fresh salsa
- Tortilla chips
- Cashew sour cream
- Place tempeh in a shallow dish. Mix together lime juice, 1 Tablespoon grape seed oil, liquid smoke, maple syrup, chili powder, cumin, and salt. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes, preferably a few hours. Stir every so often so it marinates evenly.
- To cook, heat the remaining 1 Tablespoon grape seed oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove tempeh from the marinade and cook for 5-10 minutes, turning the pieces over periodically so they brown evenly and crisp up.
- Meanwhile, start assembling salads. Divide the lettuce between four wide, shallow bowls. Top each with the black beans, and the warm tempeh. Spoon some of the diced avocado and salsa on top of each salad and drizzle with the cashew sour cream. Serve with tortilla chips on the side.