Sunday, October 10, 2010

Terrific Tempeh

Earlier this week I had a conversation with my dad about Reuben sandwiches (I kid you not). At some point, my dad asked me if there could really be a solid substitute for meat in a hearty sandwich--especially a sandwich such as the Reuben, which boasts the ultimate in salty lunch meats: corned beef.

My answer? Tempeh...the quintessential vegetarian meat substitute.

Tempeh is an Indonesian creation that, in it's purest form, is just fermented soybeans. Wait! Don't stop reading! I know it doesn't exactly sound palatable, but I promise you: Tempeh is truly the vegetarian equivalent to a meat-eater's pound of bacon. Or Filet Mignon. Or whatever it is that gets your taste buds going.

I frequently slice tempeh thin, marinade it, and brown it in a skillet coated lightly with olive oil. It adds an unbeatable "meaty" quality to sandwiches--it's packed with flavor, has a little crunch when browned, and rocks a ridiculous amount of protein (20 grams per serving!).

Vegetarian or meat-eater, give tempeh a try this week.

Our Saturday night dinner was a Tempeh "Cheese Steak" sandwich of sorts. Sauteed green peppers, onion, and garlic, sliced tempeh, swiss cheese, and veggie baked beans on the side. It was messy. It was huge. And it made me smile.

If nothing else, you can impress all your friends when you tell them you ate the vege-head equivalent to a pound of bacon.

Vegetarian Cheese "Steak" Sandwiches

You can definitely marinade the tempeh before browning it (we simply didn't have time when we made them yesterday!). Just use whatever favorite marinade you use for meat, let it soak for a few hours, and proceed as directed.

  • 1 package of tempeh, thinly sliced
  • a little olive oil
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Swiss cheese
  • Hoagie buns (or, we just used our usual bread)
  • Optional: Bread n' Butter pickles, and any other additional condiments you love on your sandwiches :)

1) Heat a little olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Place tempeh slices in the skillet; heat until lightly browned on one side, then flip each slice and heat until lightly browned on the other side (approximately 3 minutes per side). Remove tempeh slices and set aside.

2) Using the same skillet, heat a little olive oil and add bell pepper and onion slices. Saute until softened and lightly browned (about 6 -8 minutes). Add garlic and cook 1 -2 more minutes.

3) Meanwhile, place swiss cheese slices on your bread or bun of choice. Toast in a toaster oven until cheese is melted and a little bubbly.

4) To assemble sandwich, place tempeh slices on bread. Mound bell pepper and onion mixture on top. (optional: add pickles or any other condiments you love to have on your big sandwich). Not optional: must eat with barbeque baked beans (I'll bring you a fun recipe for this one tomorrow).


  1. We love Tempeh over at our house. Even people that scoff at things like Tofu can usually be won over with a good Tempeh sandwich. It looks like your sandwich might be one that we try this week. We spent last summer in Philly, so we're hankering for a good cheese steak!

  2. I think you need to do a serious step by step tutorial (with pics) on how to prep tempeh! It's one of the only things that I have not yet mastered in the kitchen - and it drives me nuts. Tofu: check, eggplant: check, but tempeh: no bueno. It turns out gross every time!

  3. I have never eaten tempeh -- but cheese steak style sounds amazing.

  4. Tempeh seems so likable to me, it always surprises me when someone doesn't dig it!

  5. I've never had tempeh before, and I'm a little nervous about it to be honest. I've seen a lot of bloggers eating it though

  6. omg perfect timing! i still have half of tempeh and i have no idea what to do with it. i've used tempeh for my sloppy joes so far. thanks for this recipe!

  7. Ahh, yet another reminder to try out tempeh! You're like my vegetarian meal muse. :)