Search This Blog

Friday, May 28, 2010

Tempeh Salad Tartine

I am always singing the praises of tempeh, a fermented form of soy. It is a healthy vegetarian protein and I love the chewy texture. Tempeh has a mild nutty flavor and, like tofu, takes on the flavors of sauces and other ingredients. Here I toss it with a lemon-yogurt dressing and capers for a creative alternative to tuna salad.

(Some individuals should avoid soy, including those who have a soy allergy or sensitivity, individuals with thyroid problems, and women taking Taxol).

Fermentation not only preserves food, it increases the nutritional value as well. Microorganisms break down protein and carbohydrates into carbon dioxide and amino acids, making food more digestible and nutrients more bioavailable. Fermented foods also help maintain a healthy balance of intestinal flora and inhibit the colonization of pathogenic bacteria, viruses and yeast.

I threw this together quickly to have a healthy lunch to take to work, so it just contains a few ingredients. But feel free to get creative with other additions like finely chopped celery, scallion, red onion, radish or olives; minced garlic; or grated golden beet or carrot.

I don’t eat a lot of bread, but I have been known to keep a loaf in the freezer for occasions like this. Foods made with flour should be limited, and they should always contain whole grain flour and nuts or seeds to ensure that the carbohydrates are digested and absorbed slowly, preventing sudden spikes in insulin levels. Choose whole grain breads with several grams of fiber and protein per slice. I used Trader Joe's Six Grain Bread with Pumpkin Seeds, but other good choices abound.

1 block tempeh, 8 oz
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 organic lemon, zest and juice
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt made from whole milk
1/4 cup real mayonnaise (or more yogurt)
Sea salt
Freshly ground peppercorn
2 tbsp capers or more to taste
Whole grain bread, one slice per serving
Lettuce or spinach leaves

Dice the tempeh into small cubes, 1 cm or smaller. Warm the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the tempeh cubes and sauté, stirring occasionally, until crispy and browned on several sides.

Meanwhile, add the zest from the lemon to a medium bowl with the yogurt, mayonnaise, a pinch of sea salt and a pinch of ground peppercorn. Stir to combine. Add enough lemon juice to achieve the desired flavor and consistency, about a tablespoon or two. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

As soon as the tempeh is browned, add it to the bowl and toss to coat in the lemon yogurt sauce. Add the capers and any other ingredients, and stir to combine.

(If you are making this ahead, stop here and store the tempeh salad in an air-tight container in the fridge until ready to eat. Assemble the bread, lettuce and tempeh salad just before you eat it.)

Toast the bread if desired. Top each slice with lettuce or spinach leaves and a generous portion of tempeh salad. Serve immediately.

No comments: