Category Archives: tempeh

Gimme some soul: Cajun-Spiced Tempeh and Creamy Grits

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)

The grits:

  • 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.

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Another winner by Jack Bishop: Tempeh, Spinach and Onion Quesadillas topped with Avocado Chipotle Salsa

I managed to squeeze one last recipe out of Jack Bishop’s A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen before I had to return it to the library.

Once again, the recipe turned out to be delicious. I think my husband might be starting to like Jack Bishop as much as he likes Peter Berley and Lorna Sass (maybe not as much as Lorna Sass – I think she is his favourite cookbook author of all time).

The successes I have had with Jack Bishop‘s recipes have led me to conclude that I will be ordering a copy of this cookbook and his Italian vegetarian cookbook in the not too distant future.  I always (except in very rare occasions) order new cookbooks online. It is considerably cheaper and you are not limited by the often meager bookstore selection.

For any of you that wish to take an in-depth look at Bishop’s interpretation of Italian vegetarian cuisine, a limited preview of this cookbook is available at Google Books.

Guess what!  When I was looking up the link for the book preview I noticed that A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen is featured there as well.

How exciting is that!

Google Books and the local library are two great resources for test-driving cookbooks.  After all, cookbooks are quite expensive and do take up a bit of room, so it is important that they fit the bill and provide interesting and inspiring dishes for you to cook (and eat).

Well, I won’t be cooking too much over the next 10 days.  We are taking some deserved summer holidays.

Until then…

Tempeh, Spinach and Onion Quesadillas with Avocado Chipotle Salsa

1 medium ripe avocado, cubed
1 tablespoon of cilantro, chopped
1 chipotle pepper in adobe sauce minced, with 1 teaspoon of juice (these are available canned in the Mexican aisle at the grocery store)
2 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
Salt

1 tablespoon of virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 8 oz package of tempeh, lightly steamed or sautéed until heated through ( I use Green Cuisine smoked tempeh)
2 cups of spinach, packed
4 flour tortillas
Monterey Jack cheese, grated (enough to please)

First, the salsa:

  • In a small bowl combine avocado, cilantro, chipotle chiles and sauce, lime juice and salt.
  • Stir to combine.

Next, the quesadillas:

  • Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet.
  • Add the onions and cook until lightly browned (this will take about 15 minutes)
  • Add the cumin and stir.
  • In the last few minutes of cooking add the tempeh cubes and stir to coat with onions
  • Add the spinach and cook until wilted.
  • Lay 1 tortilla in a large skillet and top with cheese, add a thin layer of the tempeh spinach mixture and top with more cheese.
  • Top with a tortilla and cook on medium heat until brown.  Flip, and repeat on the second side.
  • Repeat with remaining tortillas.
  • Slice each quesadilla into quarters and top with salsa.

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