Given that I follow a gluten-free, vegan diet, you’d think tempeh would be a staple. Even if not, you’d think I could include the rare, gratuitious tempeh recipe for those who do enjoy the stuff. Until now, this was in fact nearly impossible for me to do without jeopardizing my credibility and testing my conscience. Why? Because, until now, I simply hated tempeh. Every time I made it, I’d suffer through the eating part — if only because the only thing I hated more than the tempeh I just made was the concept of wasting food.
Here’s an interesting tidbit of information: while most recipes I’ve seen for tempeh call for boiling it or marinating it first to get rid of its strong flavor, I have yet to find a package of tempeh that mentions this seemingly “necessary” step. This is strange to me, since I am now convinced that most people who, like myself, think they don’t like tempeh would reconsider if they knew about this key step in its preparation. And while I could easily find this tip in any number of other places, because I’ve never seen it on a package, I considered it an extra hassle (why boil something for an extra 10 minutes if you don’t have to?) that I didn’t really feel like going through. My bad.
So maybe it’s not necessary, but it’s a very, very good idea — especially if you’re a tempeh skeptic like myself. I’m excited that I have another gluten-free, vegan protein option to experiement with, now that I have the inside knowledge that a tiny step can make all the difference.
It’s no secret in our house (apartment) that taco night is Gennaro’s favorite. I feared after going vegan that he would not appreciate the drastic changes that overtook one of his favorite meals. Out were fish tacos and chipotle slaw. In were chickpeas and tofu. I’m not really a believer that good vegan food necessarily has to mimic meat. Still, there is the occassional exception — especially when you’re trying to convince the non-vegans in your life that vegan food can be just as satisfying as meat-laden faves. This dish is a great way to prove your point.
Tempeh Taco Filling:
1 package soy tempeh (double check to make sure it’s gluten-free), cut into strips
1 tablespoon wheat-free tamari soy sauce (or regular soy sauce if you’re not gluten-free)
1 tablespoon agave nectar or yacon syrup
2 tabespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup no salt added tomato paste
2 tablespoons chile powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
salt to taste
2 tablespoons water
Other Possible Ingredients:
gluten-free corn tortillas (I used sprouted corn)
lettuce (I like the crunch of iceberg in tacos — yes, I know it has no nutritional value)
tomatoes (I used halved grape tomatoes)
vegan sour cream
vegan cheese (I like Daiya cheddar-style shreds with tacos)
anything else you normally like on your tacos
1. Prepare filling: bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil. Add tempeh and boil for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, whisk together tamari sauce, agave, olive oil, cider vinegar, tomato paste, chile powder, garlic powder, cumin and cayenne. When you are finished boiling the tempeh, drain and toss with sauce, gently breaking up tempeh with your fork. Add tempeh filling to a large skillet, along with 2 tablespoons of water. Heat on high for about 4-5 minutes, or until filling is heated through.
3. Serve in warmed gluten-free tortillas with desired toppings. My favorite way to warm corn tortillas is to heat both sides over a skillet until softened. Then I wrap in aluminum foil and let warm in a 200 degree oven until I’m ready to serve.