Asian Salad with Tempeh and Tamari Vinaigrette

Tempeh comes in many varieties. It is made with soy but can also contain other grains like millet, barley, brown or wild rice, or even flax seeds. Like tofu, tempeh tastes like a blank slate. I actually like it better than tofu because it has a chewier texture and doesn't require pressing to remove excess water. And because it is a fermented food, it's easier to digest, the nutrients are more bioavailable, and it has a positive impact on intestinal flora.

Tempeh is easy to cook: just cut it into slices or cubes, sauté it in extra virgin olive oil until golden brown and crispy, and toss it with a vinaigrette or other sauce (teriyaki and curry sauces work well). Here, it tops my Asian Salad.

If you are avoiding soy, omit the tempeh or substitute cooked, sliced chicken breast or your favorite variety of cooked beans, like chick peas or kidney beans.

This recipe makes 2 main course portions or 4 side dish servings.

To make the Tamari Vinaigrette:

2 tbsp tamari
2 tbsp brown rice vinegar
1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
1 tsp raw sesame oil (not toasted)
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 tsp freshly grated or minced garlic
Pinch crushed red pepper (optional)

Whisk together all the ingredients in the bottom of a large salad bowl. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

To make the salad:

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, first cold pressing
4 oz tempeh, or ½ block, cut into cubes or strips
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 carrot, grated or shaved into thin strips with a vegetable peeler
1½ cups shredded red cabbage
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 cup cilantro leaves
2 fresh clementines or mandarins, peeled and separated into individual sections
½ cup raw cashews
4 to 6 cups salad greens

Warm the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the tempeh until golden brown on all sides. While still warm, transfer it to the salad bowl and toss to coat in the Tamari Vinaigrette. Remove the tempeh and set aside.

Add the remaining ingredients to the salad bowl and toss to coat everything with the Tamari Vinaigrette. Arrange on a serving platter or individual plates. Top with the tempeh and serve immediately.