Saturday, May 28, 2011

RecipeTest Drive: Cornmeal-Crusted Tempeh with Smoked Tomato Sauce, Green Chile Relish, Black Bean Puree and Braised Kale

In today’s economy more and more people I know seem to be opting to cook date-night and special meals at home. They’re always on the look out for elegant meals they can make themselves. Recently I tried out a recipe that is perfect for creating a fancy meal at home (or to woo your vegetarian or vegan significant other.) This is a meal I would serve to someone who thinks vegan food is weird and can't possibly taste good. 

Cornmeal-Crusted Tempeh with Smoked Tomato Sauce, Green Chile Relish, Black Bean Puree and Braised Kale
The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen (page 190)

Ingredients for the tempeh:
8 tablespoons shoyu
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
2 cloves of garlic
2 medium dried ancho chiles
2 medium dried chipotle chiles
1 large bay leaf
10 whole peppercorns

Shoyu is basically soy sauce. If you have soy sauce on hand, just use that. I couldn’t find dried chipotle peppers so I used a small can of chipotle in adobe sauce and just rinsed off the peppers I used for the tempeh broth and the sauce below. 

Tempeh is made up of whole soy beans fermented into a patty. It isn’t “fake meat”. It is a soy cake. It has a mild flavor and takes on whatever seasoning you add to it. It has a nice nutty-rice consistency. It is very high in protein!

In a large pot combine these ingredients and add 6 cups of water. 
Bring to a boil and add 2 8oz packages of tempeh cut into 1/4 inch slices.
Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. 
Remove the tempeh with a slotted spoon to a plate and let cool.

The tempeh broth is so flavorful and fragrant with all of the chile goodness! I kept it and made soup out of it later in the week by adding tofu, veggies and a little brown rice. Yum (and resourceful)!

Ingredients for the tomato sauce:
4 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, diced
1 celery stalk, dice
2 medium dried ancho chiles, stemmed
2 medium dried chipotle chiles, stemmed
2 (12oz) cans fire-roasted tomatoes, including juice
1/2 cup vegetable stock
3 Tbs Earth Balance butter

Earth Balance Buttery Spread is amazing, tastes just like butter and is nothing to fear. It is made with an oil blend of palm fruit, safflower, canola, and olive. See? Not creepy. It’s a great way to start slowly weaning off of animal products. Do you absolutely need to go buy it for this sauce if you don't have it? Nah.

Place a large saute pan over medium heat.  Sprinkle the bottom with a pinch of sea salt and heat for one minute.  Add the oil and heat for 30 seconds, being careful not to let smoke.  This will create a nonstick effect. 

I have non-stick pans so I simply did a spritz of olive oil from my trusty sprayer (found at your friendly neighborhood Bed Bath and Beyond).It saved me some calories/fat.

Add the onion and saute for three minutes.  Add the garlic, carrots, celery and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned.  Add the chiles, tomatoes, and the stock.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes.

Ingredients for the black bean puree:

2 TBS olive oil
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15 oz) can black beans, including liquid
sea salt and pepper

In a small pot over medium heat, heat oil for 30 seconds.
Again, I used a non-stick pot so I did a spritz of oil instead. 

Add the onion and garlic and saute, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and translucent.  Add the beans and their liquid, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.  Place the beans in a food processor and pulse until pureed. I went simpler than using my food processor. I used my trusty handheld immersion blender. It’s such a wonderful tool for blending sauces and soups and makes for easy clean up!

Ingredients for the green chile relish:
1 Anaheim chile
1 garlic clove, minced
1 shallot, minced
salt and pepper

Holding the chile with tongs, char over a gas burner until blackened then peel, seed and finely dice it. (Alternatively, put the chile on a baking sheet under a broiler and cook, turning, until blackened on all sides.)  In a small bowl, combine the chile with the rest of the relish ingredients. 
I couldn’t find a fresh Anaheim chile so I used a small can of green chiles instead (and it was so much less of a hassle than playing with tongs and fire!). If canned green chiles are wrong I don’t wanna be right, because this relish was so incredibly zesty and flavorful!!! So simple, so impressive, so appearing in my dinners for years to come! A winner!!!!!!

To fry the tempeh and serve:
 1/2 cup cornmeal
salt and pepper
1/4 cup canola oil

In a mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal with salt and pepper to taste.  Dredge each piece of tempeh in the mixture, coating well.  Place a large saute pan over medium heat.  Sprinkle the bottom with a pinch of salt and heat for 1 minute.  Add the oil and heat for 30 seconds, being careful not to let it smoke.  Add the tempeh, in batches if necessary, and cook until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes on each side.  Remove from the pan. 

Ingredients for the braised kale:
- 1 1/2 pounds kale (remove the stems and chop)
- 2 TB olive oil
- 1/2 cup vegetable stock
- 1 TB Earth Balance
- salt and pepper

1.  Put a dash of salt into your pan and heat for about a minute (over medium heat).  Then add 2 TB canola oil.  After this has warmed up for about 30 seconds, you will see that nothing will stick to your pan
2.  Cook the kale for 3-4 minutes.  The kale will begin to wilt.
3.  Pour in the 1/2 cup of vegetable stock, salt and pepper.  Continue cooking over medium heat for 5 more minutes.
4.  Drain the kale and mix in the tablespoon of Earth Balance.
You could always just wash, chop and steam your kale with a microwave steamer and season later.

Serve tempeh with Braised Kale, black bean puree, tomato sauce, and green chile relish.

This meal was so savory, posh and chic! It also took me 2 hours and 15 minutes to make which is pretty timing consuming in my book. BUT, each component of this meal is useful by itself. For example, blend in an added cup of veggie broth to the black bean puree and you have a fabulous black bean soup! The tomato sauce is killer and would be great on top of veggies and/or whole wheat pasta! (I recently ate some over black beans and rice for lunch!) The relish would be delish on tacos, scrambled tofu, steamed veggies and soups.  The kale is just great to know how to make to expand your veggie world! So even if you don’t want to try this entire meal right away, pick one thing to make as a starting point….I suggest the sauce!!!

Also note, next time I make this I am cutting down my simmer time for the sauce and tempeh. I really think it could be just as flavorful in half the time.

The verdict:
BB30: “I feel like a real chef! The sauce and relish are so amazing, I want to put them on everything!”
Mr. BB30: (shocked) “Woah. This is really good. I don’t miss the meat!”

No comments:

Post a Comment