Tempeh Time: Tempeh Picatta

IMG 3567 Edited Tempeh Time: Tempeh Picatta

Over the past few years, I have read a few books and watched a few documentaries about food. Books like “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto Tempeh Time: Tempeh Picatta and movies like Food, Inc. Tempeh Time: Tempeh Picatta have really opened my eyes to the business of food and all the good and bad that brings. When a friend at work mentioned she watched the documentary Forks Over Knives Tempeh Time: Tempeh Picatta, I assumed it would be much of the same content I’d already read or watched. And though it turns out that was the case,  when I finally sat down to watch the movie during an evening when I felt the need to do nothing but veg (pun intended), the timing of the message was right to motivate me to eat a more plant-based diet.

I have never considered myself a vegetarian, though since I left the nest many years ago, I have tended to stay away from meat. In college, it was simply cheaper to eat a lot of pasta. Then immediately after college, it was still cheaper to eat a lot of pasta. I would eat the occasional rotisserie chicken or turkey sandwich, but I never really missed red meat. And though I tend to shop along the outer edges of the grocery store and rarely venture into an aisle for a packaged food, I slowly realized I could eat in a more healthful manner.

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Over the past month or so,  I have failed miserably at eating a solely plant-based diet. I can’t get away from/don’t want to leave my beloved eggs and cheese! Fortunately, I have had a bit more success in trying new vegan dishes, including this Tempeh Picatta from “Chloe’s Kitchen.”

Tempeh? What the heck is tempeh? Why, it’s fermented soybeans shaped with other grains  into a patty. Sounds delicious! (Note sarcastic tone). The tempeh sold at my local Harris Teeter grocery store was of the maple-bacon and other flavored varieties, but I found plain tempeh at Earth Fare.

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Birdseed for dinner? Nope, it’s tempeh.

Once the tempeh picatta was made, I really did not want to eat it. There was something about thickening the sauce that just did not sit well with my appetite. But I tried it anyway, and I liked the way the lemon juice and capers added just the right tart taste to the creamy sauce.

Then I packed it in my lunch the next day. I sometimes pack lunches I look forward to; I sometimes pack lunches I tolerate for sustenance. The tempeh picatta fell in the latter category, but then a funny thing happened. I sat down at my desk to eat after a brief trip to the break room, and the next thing I knew I had scarfed the tempeh picatta down. And I enjoyed it!

So I share with you tempeh picatta in the spirit of trying new things. I deviated from the vegan recipe when I used butter in place of margarine, and you can see I garnished my dish with some roasted red pepper and parsley. I have two more tempeh recipes to share with you in the coming days, each one getting better and better. Until then, enjoy!

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Tempeh Picatta
  • 8 ounces (1 package) tempeh
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot (for thickening)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter (or margarine to keep it vegan)
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste.
  1. Use a steamer basket placed over a large pot of water or any other steamer you have on hand to steam the tempeh for approximately 20 minutes. (Steaming will remove the bitter taste from the tempeh).
  2. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium high heat.
  3. Slice the tempeh horizontally into fingers, then place the tempeh in the skillet and cook until browned, about two to five minutes per side.
  4. Transfer the tempeh to a plate and set aside.
  5. In the same skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and saute the onions until soft, about five to seven minutes.
  6. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about two more minutes.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then slowly add the broth to the skillet. (Be careful when adding the broth to avoid spattering the oil).
  8. Reduce heat to medium to cook down the broth for about two minutes.
  9. While the broth cooks down, whisk together the cornstarch or arrowroot with 2 tablespoons of water. The thickener may seize up but will loosen as you whisk.
  10. Whisk the thickening mixture into the broth mixture in the skillet. Continue to whisk until the sauce thickens, then add the tempeh back to the skillet.
  11. Reduce heat to low, add the lemon juice, and allow to simmer for about three minutes.
  12. Remove from heat and stir in the butter or margarine until melted and fully incorporated.
  13. Stir in the capers and parsley, season again with salt and pepper to taste, then eat and enjoy.

Quinoa: Cereal By Day, Dessert Topping By Night

IMG 3708 Edited Quinoa: Cereal By Day, Dessert Topping By Night

My last attempt at quinoa recipes (for a while anyway) was born from memories of my first granola-making experience and a bunch of leftover ingredients that were hanging out in the pantry waiting to be put to use.  My habit to take what I have on hand and make something edible has a tendency to result in questionable dishes, but this cereal turned out quite nicely.

The main players – quinoa, oats, and wheat germ – are supported in this version by pecans and golden raisins, then sweetened and spiced with agave nectar, cardamom, and cinnamon. I also threw in some toasted coconut for good measure. I based the recipe’s ingredients off a Claire Robinson 5 Ingredient Fix Food Network (would one of those descriptors have been sufficient?) Granola Topping recipe I used in the past. Hence the leftover wheat germ and agave nectar.

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The best part about a granola recipe is its openness to play. Don’t like raisins? Then how about adding Craisins or dried apricots? Unable to tolerate nuts or wheat germ? Substitute sunflower seeds or sprinkle in a little bit of flaxseed. There is really quite a bit that can be done here to create a nutritious, low-cost breakfast cereal.

Or…if you do not like to eat granola-type cereals, then sprinkle the quinoa cereal over a fruit and yogurt parfait. I also really enjoy topping a dish of vanilla ice cream with the mixture to add a little crunch.

In need of more ideas? View my Quinoa board on Pinterest for more recipes, including  a warm breakfast cereal. Enjoy!

IMG 3711 Edited Quinoa: Cereal By Day, Dessert Topping By Night

Quinoa Cereal
  • 1½ cups quinoa
  • 1¼ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • ½ cup wheat germ
  • ½ cup pecans
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons toasted coconut
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together all of the ingredients except the agave nectar.
  2. Once the ingredients are well combined, add the agave syrup and mix well.
  3. Transfer the mixture to the a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
  4. Bake at 300 degrees F until golden, about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
I found cooking quinoa according to the package directions, one cup of uncooked quinoa to two cups of liquid, yielded a scant 1½ cups of quinoa needed for this recipe. Other nuts or seeds can be substituted for the pecans. Other dried fruit may also be substituted for the raisins.


Keeps Getting Better: Coconut Quinoa

IMG 3549 Edited Keeps Getting Better: Coconut Quinoa

A recent stop along my journey to find a way to enjoy quinoa found me at Coconut Quinoa from The Inspired Vegan. How can you go wrong with coconut, right? (I can almost hear cheers from the coconut lovers and sounds resembling “blech” from the coconut haters).

As I took the pot of coconut quinoa off the stove, I asked one of my nearest and dearest to taste test. Our conversation went like this:

Me: Hey, will you please try this?
N&D: Mmm, that’s really good.
Me: Really? I just don’t know.
N&D: It’s not supposed to taste like cake!
Me: But you can use it in cake!

IMG 3553 Edited Keeps Getting Better: Coconut Quinoa

Our conversation would likely have been quite different had it occurred a day or two later. Given a little time, the coconut flavor really had time to really sink into the quinoa. It still was not like eating a Mounds candy bar, or cake for that matter, but the quinoa had lost most of its earthy flavor that I do not enjoy.

Along with broken hearts and wine, my Things That Improve Over Time list now includes coconut quinoa. Speaking of wine, it’s Friday evening. I’m off to have a glass. Enjoy the weekend!

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 Need more recipe inspiration?

Check out my quinoa and coconut boards on Pinterest.

Coconut Quinoa
Recipe type: Sides
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons dried coconut
  1. Combine the coconut milk, water and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat.
  2. Bring to a boil, then add the quinoa and coconut.
  3. Return to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and keep covered to steam for 5 minutes.
  5. Fluff with a fork and serve.