Thursday, January 07, 2010

Spicy Thai Tempeh with Broccoli & Cashews, Zesty Rice & a Simple Salad

In 2009, Terry Walters penned Clean Food, sparking my culinary block with creative use of foods like tempeh. A few months after reading the book, I rose to the challenge of her Baked Maple Mustard Tempeh, and found there might be something to this ugly package of smushed seeds after all. And more than just maple, which I like to use in everything regardless. So for a while, I rode her book like some kind of food stallion, galloping through Maple Nut Granola, Coconut Cranberry Pecan Balls, Ginger Pear Butter, and Tofu Salad. Coming to an abrupt halt only when the Spicy Coconut Pumpkin Soup recipe threw me to the ground and trampled me over (something about the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, ginger and galangal combo — yuckers). Suffice it to say, I put the book aside to let distance soften my bitterness.

I pulled it out this week, newly inspired to try more tempeh. Walters suggests the pairing with the Zesty Basmati Rice (recipe below), which sounded delicious, and truly is. I'm still not sure her method of soaking the rice grains first helped speed the cooking along, so skip that step if you're short on time or have a rice cooker. Note to self: need rice cooker.

I adapted the tempeh recipe from a quick cook to an overnight marinade — opposite of my usual methodology — simply to let the flavors infuse because I was feeding it to George for the first time. It worked. Steaming the tempeh first softens it up and allows the marinade to soak in nicely. George really liked it, though he had no idea what he was eating. I asked him and he said, "Cashews?" Ha ha. If you're a tempeh lover already, go ahead and brown the tempeh in the pot with the onion and add the marinade from there. Much faster, I know. But sometimes it's worth a little extra time if it means I can coerce George into liking something he finds questionable. And then the next time, if he hates it, I can say 'But remember it's good in that stir-fry with broccoli and cashews' so he'll try it a third time. At least this is my wiley, circuitous way. Don't question it; it works for me.

Browning the onions and tempeh, with broccoli and marinade at the ready.

Spicy Thai Tempeh with Broccoli & Cashews
Adapted from Clean Food
Serves 4

8 oz tempeh, cut into thin 1" slices
2 T maple syrup
2 tsp tamari
1/3 cup water
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 tsp EVOO
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 cups steamed broccoli florets

1/2 cup cashews, roasted and salted, chopped

Steam the sliced tempeh for 8 minutes, then drain. Mix the EVOO, maple syrup, tamari, red pepper flakes, and water. Put the tempeh in a ziplock or tupperware with lid and pour the oil-syrup mixture over it. Let sit overnight, or longer, to marinate. To make the dish, steam the broccoli 2-3 minutes and drain, then quickly rinse the pan and let dry out over the burner. Add a teaspoon of EVOO and brown the onion. Crumble the tempeh into the pan, reserving the marinade, and let it cook just to warm through. Pour the remaining marinade into the pot and mix in the broccoli, turning everything to coat with marinade. Just before serving, sprinkle with the cashews (you can also use peanuts if you don't have cashews on hand).

*Please note that you can halve the recipe for one or two servings only. It kind-of goes to mush the next day and is much, much better eaten right away.

Midway through cooking the rice. My water didn't all absorb.

Zesty Basmati Rice with Cinnamon and Cumin
Adapted from Clean Food
Serves 4

1-1/2 cup brown basmati rice
3 cups vegetable stock
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 T sesame oil, plain or toasted (can substitute peanut oil)

Soak rice for 1 hour in a bowl with water to cover. Drain and place in a stockpot with the stock, cinnamon stick, cumin, salt and zest. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer, covered, until water is absorbed or the rice is tender, about 25 minutes. If rice is tender, drain off additional water and fluff with a fork. Toss with the oil and cilantro. Serve.

Simple Orange & Avocado Salad
2 hearty servings

2 cups red leaf lettuce, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
2 clementines or 1 orange, segmented
1/2 ripe avocado
handful of cilantro leaves, washed and chopped

1 T champagne vinegar
1 tsp agave nectar
salt & pepper to taste

Arrange salad ingredients on a bowl or plate. Mix dressing and pour over salad, gently tossing to coat. Juice from the orange will help keep the avocado from browning. (To make this salad a full meal, double the quantities and add toasted sliced almonds and thinly sliced red onions.)


Anonymous said...

Never have tried tempeh. I am worried the texture will be beanie (beany?), or at least as bumpy as it looks. Does it taste like beans?


Julie said...

I picked this book up at Borders last week and it seems good but has weird ingredients. Is there more ahem, regular, stuff in most of the recipes? I am not very adventuresome. :^)


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