Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Breakthrough: Tempeh Tacos!

Hi everyone! Remember me? Classes started two weeks ago, and as I expected life has become pretty much insane! Not too much cooking, and even less time for recording my cooking stories on here. But I'm not giving up! I've cut out time-sensitive blog commitments (like Daring Bakers), but I am still going to push myself to update my blog whenever I do have a chance. So if you promise not to give up on me, I'll do my best to share my food adventures whenever I have some free time!

This recipe is one I discovered earlier this summer, when Joe and I took a vegetarian cooking class at the Chopping Block. I had experimented with tempeh before, and felt like it was a better texture and flavor then tofu. But I had only though of one main way to use it... cut up cubes, marinate (any flavor works here- asian, italian, bbq), then stir fry it. The tempeh soaks up marinade flavors really well, but I was getting sick of only cooking it one way.

The revelation at our cooking class came when we discovered that tempeh could be crumbled. For some reason I had not though of using it that way, and as soon as I heard the idea I was off and running. Basically, crumbling the tempeh means you could sub it most places where you would use ground meat, adding protein and bulk without using an animal product. AND, for you meat eaters out there, think how easily you could use this knowledge to make a vegetarian friendly meal when you're inviting tree huggers over for dinner. The recipe below is using tempeh in tacos, and think how fun it would be to have a taco bar that included tempeh, ground beef, and shreaded chicken.

The original recipe called for making peach salsa to put on top.
We didn't plan ahead enough to make peach salsa, but that didn't
stop me from chopping up a regular peach to top the tacos. The
sweet fruit was a great complement to the spicy tacos.

And don't worry, I'm not turning into some holier-than-thou veggie eater... I've eaten meat most days this week, mostly because I keep eating leftovers from work and that means lots of varieties of meat! But I have lowered my grocery bill by minimizing the meat we buy, and I hope that our reduction has a teeny, tiny, slight impact on our environment. Not to mention the meat area at my nearby grocery store can smell kind of questionable, and since I don't have a car during the day it's my easiest grocery shopping option!

Public Service Announcement: Wondering where to buy tempeh? They sell it at Whole Foods, and also at Trader Joe's for almost $1 cheaper per package. You'll find it near the tofu and other meat alternatives, usually near the produce department or the cheese & dairy. Give it a try!

Spiced Tempeh Tacos
from The Chopping Block cooking school in Chicago

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, sliced thin
1 red pepper, sliced thin
8 ounces tempeh, crumbled
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp of your favorite Mexican spice blend (I did some cumin, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and a touch of paprika)
2 roma tomatoes, cut in a small dice
1/4 cup cilantro, rough chopped
juice of one lime
salt and pepper, to taste
corn tortillas

Heat a saute pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Saute the onion, red pepper and tempeh, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized. Add the garlic and spices and continue cooking for an additional minute. Add the tomatoes and cook until they start to break down, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and fold in the lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper.

Toast the tortillas over an open flame or in a skillet. Fill with the tempeh mixture, and garnish with peach salsa, sour cream, etc.


Joelen said...

What a great post and one that encourages me to work with tempeh! I wonder if I can get away with not telling my husband what it is and just putting it on his plate - lol! Thanks for posting!

elly said...

I've actually never tried tempeh, let alone cook with it. You've inspired me, so hopefully soon! Hope your classes are going well!

TKW said...

I'm scared of tempeh, but who doesn't like tacos, right? I may have to jump into the veggie waters and give it a go...

Laura said...

While in LAX I tried tacos from a "Taco truck" .. oh, my god, were they ever hot!!! I thought of those tacos when I read your "Mexcian mix spice"!