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“ and movies like Food, Inc. 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, 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.
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.
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!
- 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.
- 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).
- In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium high heat.
- Slice the tempeh horizontally into fingers, then place the tempeh in the skillet and cook until browned, about two to five minutes per side.
- Transfer the tempeh to a plate and set aside.
- In the same skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and saute the onions until soft, about five to seven minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about two more minutes.
- 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).
- Reduce heat to medium to cook down the broth for about two minutes.
- 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.
- 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.
- Reduce heat to low, add the lemon juice, and allow to simmer for about three minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in the butter or margarine until melted and fully incorporated.
- Stir in the capers and parsley, season again with salt and pepper to taste, then eat and enjoy.