Sunday, March 7, 2010

Citrus Tempeh and Roasted Broccoli: Or, What I had for Dinner Last Night

Hello Friends, xtina here -

After almost a week on the road, I've been craving a return to home-cooked food. A warm, healthy meal free of animal products would almost certainly erase some painful memories of a difficult - although snack-filled - journey (see posts below). Yesterday afternoon I was rummaging around the fridge and discovered an unopened pack of tempeh. Score! My wonderful mother had also picked up a head of organically-grown broccoli for her strange, vegan-eating hippie daughter. With these building blocks in mind, I turned to one of my favorite internet tools: Food Blog Search.

This website is just like Google 4 food! In fact, it's even powered by Google! All you do is type in some keywords or your ingredient or whatever you want and behold, a list of blog pages appears, hopefully relevant to your search. You can even refine your search by searching just vegetarian blogs, or gluten-free blogs. Handy! Maybe someday our lil' ol' blog here will appear on the site...

After I "did a google" on tempeh, I discovered this gem of recipe on Heidi Swanson's gem of a website, 101 Cookbooks. I love citrus flavors, especially when winter seems to be dragging on and on and on. While scanning the recipe, it occurred to me that I could try something I'd heard about but never done - pre-steaming tempeh to improve both texture and flavor before continuing with the rest of the recipe. I remembered a post my friend Andy had made on his veg food blog, the wind attack, and got to reading. He recommends steaming your sliced tempeh for twenty minutes or so before cooking. Armed with such knowledge, I began dinner.

I modified the recipe on 101 Cookbooks to fit my taste and ingredients. Here's my version:

Citrus Tempeh

1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup lemon juice, plus an extra squeeze to finish
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
3 small garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 large pack of tempeh
2 tablespoons olive oil

Procedure: Slice your tempeh into small triangles (side note - can anyone help me improve my tempeh slicing skills? I never get it right. My slices are never even, crumbles fall away from my knife, and this is after I wrestle to get the cake out of the packaging for at least ten minutes...). Fill a large pot with about two inches of water, and put your steaming rack inside. Arrange slices on steamer so they don't overlap. Cover and let steam for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, prepare your sauce.

Combine the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl, and whisk together. Set aside.

Once the tempeh is finished in the sauna, heat a little olive oil in a skillet. Transfer the tempeh from the steamer to your pan, and brown until both sides are crispy and golden, about five minutes per side. Once this has been completed, pour in the sauce and simmer, about ten minutes. The sauce will thicken into yummy goodness.

Finish with another squeeze of lemon juice and you're all set!

Now, for the broccoli. One of my favorite ways to prepare this lovable veggie is roasting. I chop the head into florets, cover with olive oil, and toss with salt and pepper. Bake in your oven for 20-25 minutes, and finish with a squeeze of lemon juice, chili flakes and toasted almonds. I suspect sesame oil would be good here also, or maybe some nutritional yeast. Play around!

Frugal Tip! Get the most out of your veggies, especially when it's winter and they cost a little more. Don't discard the stems of your broccoli - instead, peel them to remove the tougher outer skin. You can chop them into small pieces and steam, or shred them and add to coleslaw or salad. I made mine into sticks, for dipping into homemade hummus. It took me all of three minutes:

mmm, this + hummus = future afternoon snack

Tempeh complete and broccoli thus roasted, I sat down to my meal relaxed and satisfied.

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