Have you tried tempeh?
What is this strange, funky looking block that comes shrink wrapped in plastic that is all over vegan and vegetarian food blogs? This is what I asked myself. And as I do with most inquiries related to food, I followed my curiosity and finally tried it!
So, what exactly is it? Tempeh is fermented soy beans shaped in a block whose origins go back to Indonesia. It’s popular in vegetarian and vegan circles as a meat replacement and protein source. If it sounds similar to tofu, here’s a nice breakdown about the differences between them. I don’t adhere to a particular diet but I love exploring the world of plant-based foods so tempeh was a must-try.
I like to use tempeh as a meatless protein source for familiar dishes like “meatballs” and chili. Both dishes are full of other flavorful ingredients that helps to subdue the nutty and earthy taste of tempeh that we’re still getting used to. Tempeh seems to absorb flavors well so it’s pretty versatile.
This simple tempeh chili recipe is a great entree to making a vegan dish with comforting and familiar flavors. The ingredients are things that you probably already have on hand and can be made in one pot – my favorite kind of recipe. Inspired by chili rice, which is a bachelor-food dish introduced to me by my husband, we topped the tempeh chili over rice and garnished with some pita chips (in lieu of tortilla chips) for some texture.
Add some additional fixins like picked onions, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, scallions and you’re good to go!
Go grab some tempeh from any grocery store including Trader Joes near the tofu section and give it a try!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow or white onion, diced
- One 8-ounce package tempeh crumbled (chop it up and use your hands)
- 1 large green bell pepper, diced
- 1 large stalk celery, diced
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup pureed tomato sauce (you can use jarred tomato sauce, I love Raos!)
- One 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained (or 1 1/2 cups cooked) (or bean of choice)
- One 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained (or 1 1/2 cups cooked) (or bean of choice)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoons sea salt (to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, cook for a few minutes, and then add the tempeh. Cook till the tempeh begins to brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the green pepper and celery and cook till they’re tender, another 5 minutes. Add the garlic. Continue cooking another two minutes until fragrant.
- Add all of the remaining ingredients, along with half a cup of water. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the chili is fragrant, warm, and the flavors have come together (25 to 30 minutes). Add more water as needed, if the chili becomes too thick. Serve, sprinkled with your fixins.