Thank you Bryant Terry for your fantastic cookbook Vegan Soul Kitchen!
I checked this great cookbook out of the library last week and decided to go with a dish from Terry’s “top-ten” chapter entitled “Top Six Good Eats: You Gotta’ Rewind Me” and I am glad I did!
Although, in retrospect, I am sure that any of the delicious-sounding recipes from his book would have been as good (stay tuned, I have one in mind for next weekend!), his recipe for Cajun-Spiced Tempeh and Creamy Grits was out of this world.
It was out my world too, my cooking world, that is. I have been searching the internet to try to find an African vegetarian cookbook, one that tackles cuisine from the whole continent – not just the northern coast and haven’t had much luck. Vegan Soul Kitchen kept popping up, and although it is not exactly what I had in mind, as it is African-American, it is exceptional and does introducing some different flavours to our table. In the end, different flavour combinations was what I was after, so Vegan Soul Kitchen did the trick!
In case you decide to try his recipe I will mention a couple of things. One of the adaptations that I made “de-veganized” the creamy grits, so if you want it vegan just sub in unsweetened soy milk for the skim milk and cashew cream (1 cup of cashews soaked overnight and drained with 1/2 cup of water and blend until smooth) and 1/2 cup of water for the cream. Also, it is very spicy, so if you want to tone it down cut back on the cayenne and crushed chiles; I did not think that all the spice mix would adhere to the tempeh pieces, but it did.
It will stick to your taste buds too! The flavour of Terry’s amazing spice mixture lingered pleasantly in my mouth for the entire evening.
And, of course, there were leftovers for lunch the next day!
Cajun-Spiced Tempeh with Creamy Grits
1 8 ounce package of tempeh (if required, check the ingredients to make sure it is gluten-free)
4 cups of vegetable broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 cup olive oil for frying
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium-sized leek, sliced thinly into half moons (about 1 cup)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups water
1 cup of vegetable stock
1 cup of stone ground grits (polenta)
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup of half and half cream
2 green onions finely sliced for garnish
Get the tempeh started:
- Cut the tempeh into 1/2 inch fingers and then slice them in half lengthwise and then in half widthwise.
- In a medium-sized saucepan bring the vegetable stock to boil and then add the tempeh pieces. Reduce to medium low and simmer for 25 minutes.
- Drain the tempeh in a colander and reserve the stock for use in the grits.
- Let the tempeh dry in the colander for about 30 minutes while you are making the grits
- In a paper bag mix the spice mixture together (salt, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, chili powder, chile flakes, cayenne, thyme, oregano, and white pepper) and set aside
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the tempeh pieces. Fry them for 2-3 minutes on each until browned (my cast iron pan worked great for this!)
- Transfer the tempeh to the paper bag using a fork or a slotted spoon.
- close up the bag and shake until all the tempeh is well coated with the spice mix
Then the tomatoes and leeks:
- While you are simmering the tempeh, chop the tomatoes into quarters, add the lemon juice and salt, give it a stir, cover and put in the fridge.
- In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute the leeks and garlic until browned.
- Transfer to a medium-sized bowl (the tomatoes and tempeh will get added later)
- To make the grits, bring the water and stock to a boil. Slowly whisk the grits into the liquid and then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes until most of the water is absorbed.
- Add the skim milk and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently until the milk is absorbed.
- Then add the cream and stir frequently for about 30 minutes.
- Combine the tomatoes and tempeh with the leeks and mix well.
- Top the grits with tempeh mixture and garnish with green onions.