Meatless Monday Main: Beans, Toms & Tempeh

Let’s hear it for tempeh!  Not always an immediately loved food, I’ll admit, but very worth a little effort to get to know. Finding a high quality product is key. I’ve purchased packages, that, regardless of the recipe, still resembled cardboard more than something edible.  I would have given up, had I not spent plenty of time in Holland where Indonesian cuisine is very popular and delicious tempeh dishes abound.

In the 16th century the Netherlands colonized Indonesia (where tempeh originated), and absorbed several unlikely flavors into their cuisine: peanuts, nutmeg, cloves and tempeh among them. Since the 1960s tempeh has become more available in other European countries and the US, where it can now be found in health food stores as a vegetarian source of protein.

Made from fermented soybeans, tempeh is easier to digest than most soy products because it contains beneficial digestive enzymes and probiotics.  It is low in carbohydrates, and exceptionally high in protein, iron and calcium, making it a great choice for vegans, vegetarians, for weight loss, for diabetes prevention and treatment and for those concerned about metabolic syndrome.  If you’re interested in the health benefits of soy, this is an excellent way to enjoy them.  Because tempeh is made from whole fermented soybeans, it is generally exempt from the recently published concerns about soy.  For more information about all aspects of tempeh, including how to make it at home, I recommend this comprehensive site.

With a good piece of tempeh, a skillet, a few spices, some soy sauce and fresh vegetables, you’ll have a really nice, satisfying dish, you’ll easily make again and again.  I combined the tempeh with cherry tomatoes and green beans, because that’s what is fresh and in season right now.  This recipe can easily be made with any two vegetables.  For the presentation, it’s nice if the vegetables display different colors.

Beans, Toms and Tempeh

  • 1 package tempeh, cut in 1/4 inch slices (click here for my favorite brand)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or butter or grapeseed oil)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (or more to taste), finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ginger (or more to taste), minced
  • 2 teaspoons tamari
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, each cut in half
  • 1 pint green beans, stems removed
  • salt
  • pepper
  • chili flakes (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Method:
  1. Heat oil in a skillet until and saute onions until translucent.
  2. Add ginger and garlic.  Allow to cook for 1-2 minutes; add tempeh slices and tamari.
  3. Once tempeh is starting to get crispy, add tomatoes and green beans for a quick saute until beans are bright green.
  4. Remove from heat, season with salt, pepper and chili flakes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.
Serving suggestions: over a grain such as brown rice, millet or quinoa; along side mashed potatoes; or wrapped in a corn tortilla or chipati. Combine with a fresh green salad for a complete meal.
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