Monday, November 16, 2009

Recipe: Glazed Tempeh With Spelt Kale And Beets

Husband was out of town last week, so it was just me and Theo fending for ourselves. Whenever I brought up food ideas for the week, Husband pouted at the thought of missing out. I told him I hadn't made anything he had outright disliked, so how was I supposed to eat without him missing out? Then I remembered a few weeks ago I made tempeh that he really wasn't a fan of. Sure, it had only been a few weeks since I had it last, but I was actually feeling pretty lazy, so I was ok with it. I made it basically the same way I did last time, only this time I documented it so I could share it with you. That's right. We're going to go through this together, with pictorial representation. How exciting! Here we go...

Start off by melting the butter over medium heat. Always a good start to a meal, I say. Make sure you use a pan big enough to handle wilting the kale and tossing everything together at the end.

When the butter is good and melty, add the spelt (or whichever grain tickles your fancy), stir to coat, and let the grains toast for about a minute.

I like spelt in this recipe because a meatier, chewier grain holds up nicely to the tempeh and massive bunch of kale. I don't think brown rice would provide enough of a texture contrast and it would get a bit lost. Wheat berries would probably do well.

When spelt is toasted, add 1 bottle of your beer of choice. It gets better and better, I know. Just whatever you have lying around. I've done this twice now, with two completely different beers, turned out great both times. If you don't like beer, I'll bet it would be great with some red wine, though you'll end up with purple grains. And if you're not into alcohol, chicken broth or even water would work fine. Start with a 2-1 ration of liquid to grain and add more as needed. I think the beer gave it a really interesting flavor that kept it from tasting a bit dry.

Bring the beer to a boil and then turn down the heat so it is just simmering. Cook the spelt...until it's done! It takes about an hour. If the liquid runs out, add more. I just used water, but you could use chicken broth if you have some on hand. Don't let it get too dry or the grains will start to cook rather than boil. After an hour try a bite (once you let it cool off!) of the spelt. If it tastes too chewy, let it cook longer. It's always going to have a bite to it, but it shouldn't give your jaw a workout. If it doesn't taste right, just keep cooking.

While the spelt is simmering, mix the glaze mixture together. I like to mix it right in my 4 cup measuring cup. Easy measuring and easy to pour. I like to freshly squeeze my orange juice because I just bought one of those plastic juicing doo-dads, but that Simple Orange juice is basically fresh squeezed, so if you're feeling lazy, just buy that. It's delicious!

In case you didn't know, this is tempeh. I had never seen it before a few weeks ago. It feels like dried tofu and rice hard vacuum packed together. So much easier to handle than tofu. Chop 2 packages into bit-sized pieces.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tempeh and sear on all sides, a few minutes on each side. This was a total pain. Big hunks of meat are so much easier. I can never get my tongs to properly grasp each piece. Maybe I should try bigger chunks next time. I also did it in two batches to ensure proper searing...and my sanity. I'm so anal about each piece searing properly, I can't handle too many pieces at once.

This is usually about the time Husband asks if he can interrupt me for a second. He is so cute. This is what he asks when he wants a hug. He used to just come up behind me and hug me, and I'd snip at him for making me almost cut myself, or hanging on me when I needed to move around. Now he asks permission so I won't get mad. He can't help his timing. And when Theo sees Husband getting attention, he wants attention too, so Husband has to play fetch with him after he's gotten his share. The circle of love. *barf!* Now everyone get off of me so I can get back to cooking!

When the tempeh is seared, it's time for the orange glaze mixture. Slowly pour it into the pan and simmer for about 10 minutes, until it reduces to sweet deliciousness. If you remember, about halfway through, toss the tempeh to make sure the glaze cooks nicely over all sides, but I didn't remember. That's ok.

About this time your spelt will be done. Unless you're a speed demon, which I am not, in which case you'll just have to wait! Anyway, toss the kale into the pan and toss everything around. If you can't fit all the kale in all at once, that's ok. Add as much as you can, then add the rest when the first bunch wilts a bit. It cooks down, don't worry.

Next, add the chopped beets. I loved the beets in this dish. They were a nice contrast in color, texture, and flavor. What's not to love?

Next, add the cooked tempeh and glaze. Toss everything until incorporated and wonderful. Yum!

Glazed Tempeh with Spelt, Kale, and Beets
Makes 6-8 servings.
Tempeh portion adapted from this 101 Cookbooks recipe.

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup spelt (or brown rice, wheat berries, or any other grain that suits your fancy)
  • 1 bottle of beer (any will do), or 2 cups chicken broth, or water
  • 2 packages of tempeh (about 20 ounces), or extra-firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice (~4 large juicy oranges)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 4 teaspoons tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 3 tablespoons mirin (try white wine or sake if you don't have it)
  • 4 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bunch kale, de-stemmed and chopped
  • 4 medium beets, roasted, skins removed, and chopped

  1. Melt butter over medium heat in non-stick pan big enough to hold everything. Add the spelt and let it toast for a minute or two.
  2. Turn heat up to high and add the beer (or chicken broth). Once it boils, turn heat down and simmer until spelt is cooked through. It takes about an hour. If you’re using rice, you would need less beer and to lessen the cooking time. If the liquid evaporates before the spelt is tender, add chicken stock or water a little at a time until it is done. Spelt does have a bit of a bite to it, so keep that in mind when tasting for doneness.
  3. While spelt is simmering, put the orange juice in a small bowl. Add the ginger, tamari, mirin, maple syrup, ground coriander, and garlic. Mix together and set aside.
  4. Cut the tempeh (or tofu) into bite-sized pieces (if working with tofu, pat dry with a paper towel). Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the tempeh and sear for 5 minutes, or until golden underneath. Turn and cook the other side for another few minutes until golden.
  5. Slowly add the orange glaze mixture into the pan and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced. Turn the tempeh halfway through to ensure even coating.
  6. When the spelt is fully cooked, add chopped kale and cook for a few minutes, until wilted. Add the beets and cook until heated through. Add the tempeh and orange glaze mixture. Stir to incorporate all the ingredients. Turn off heat and serve.

Phew! I did it! This was fun! Hope you enjoyed it. Since I was only making one dish last weekend, I was able to take my time and take lots of pictures, which was a blast. Husband got nervous about pesky things like steam around the camera, but I banished him from the kitchen and everything was zen.

Did I mention I had to go to three stores to find tempeh? Not that the other 2 stores didn't carry it, but they were actually sold out. Why was it in such demand last weekend!? Oh, that's right. Because I wanted to buy it. Naturally this weekend at the store I saw tons of it in stock. Of course. Apparently tempeh is flying off the shelves faster than the store managers anticipated. Imagine that! Attention store managers: did you notice how all the plain tempeh was gone, but all the disgusting pre-flavored tempeh was still over flowing? Did you notice how the tempeh you were trying to pass off as a bacon alternative "fakin' bacon" was in abundance? Did you notice how I asked where the non-flavored tempeh was and when saw you were out left the area without buying the other stuff? Looks like I wasn't the only one doing that. Take the hint.


Kelly said...

So what does Tempeh taste like exactly? Pretty much like whatever you cook it in? Is it the same texture as tofu?

JuLo said...

Tempeh tastes like....oh man, that's a hard one! Texture-wise, it's totally different from tofu. It's like extra extra extra extra firm tofu, but bone dry. It's a lot easier to handle than tofu because it doesn't fall apart. It tends to have a bit of grain mixed in, I think, like millet. So where tofu is a uniform silky texture, tempeh feels more like a few things compressed together. Um, if that makes sense. So I'd say it holds together better to give it a bite, but I wouldn't call it chewy or anything. It's still pretty soft.

So far I've only cooked it with this sauce, but it definitely took on the flavor well. It doesn't quite disappear, but, really, I'd say tempeh is really like if you took tofu and mixed it with some whole grains and compressed it into a block. Where tofu is silky, tempeh is a bit more present, and has a slightly nutty flavor. But it's flavor would be totally boring by itself without help from a sauce of some kind, but not as boring as tofu. It really is like a cross between the two. Huh, I never thought of it that way until now.

If you try it, let me know if you think I'm crazy and it's disgusting!