I have to admit that it took some time for tempeh to grow on me and become a staple in my fridge. Both taste and texture are quite different to anything I had eaten before and I was a little lost as for how to best cook and season it. Learning more about gut health and how beneficial fermented foods are for it, I decided to challenge myself to create the perfect tempeh dish - however many experiments it would take. The kids were equally unsure about it to start with and asked me to stop making the “special tofu”. One day they spotted taco shells in the supermarket and insisted I’d make tacos for dinner. I figured I’d just use whatever was left in the fridge, planning to fry crumbled tofu the same way I do it for my vegan Bolognese recipe (recipe on the blog), mix it with some beans, avocado and tomato and season it with what was left of a chilli con carne spice mix I had bought ages ago. Only that there wasn’t any tofu left in the fridge, but instead I had a block of tempeh that was about to go off. A few taco dinners later I had perfected my tempeh taco recipe and the whole family is finally happy to eat tempeh on a regular basis! I could write a whole page about the benefits of tempeh, but to keep it short and sweet let’s just say its an excellent source of protein, as well as various vitamins and minerals (including iron and calcium). It contains prebiotics* which improve digestive health, reduce inflammation and boost immunity**.
What you need:
6 taco shells – I like the crunchy type made from corn, but soft wraps work just as well
2tbsp rapeseed oil
200g tempeh – coarsely grated using a cheese grater
1 tin of beans of your choice (I especially like blackeye beans) – drained and rinsed
3tbsp tomato puree
1-2tsp date syrup
If you want to make your life easy you can use any chilli con carne spice mix you like. If you prefer making it from scrap here’s what I use...
2tsp hot (spicy) paprika – if the kids don’t like spicy food replace with plain or smoked paprika
2tsp smoked paprika
2tsp ground cumin
1tsp garlic granules
1tsp unsweetened 100% cocoa powder
Salt to taste
½ small red onion – finely chopped
Small handful of baby gem lettuce – finely sliced
Small handful of coriander leaves
1 tomato – cut into small cubes
1 avocado – sliced
200ml unsweetened soy yogurt
1tbsp olive oil
½ lime – juice only
1 garlic clove – pressed
Salt and black pepper to taste
How you do it:
Preheat the oven in line with the instructions for your tacos (if you use wraps I suggest warming them up in the microwave for 30 seconds just before serving).
Start by preparing all your toppings, so you are ready to serve up as soon as the tempeh ‘mince’ & bean mix is ready.
In a frying pan heat up the rapeseed oil, then add your grated tempeh to the pan.
Fry the tempeh for about 10mins, giving it the occasional gentle stir.
Meanwhile prepare the lime yogurt – simply mix all the ingredients, season to taste and put aside for later.
Once the tempeh looks lightly browned and a little crunchy in parts add beans and spices and mix everything thoroughly.
Now add tomato puree and date syrup and give it another stir, then turn off the heat.
Time to serve up! The whole family can get involved filling their taco shells or wraps (it can get a bit messy, but nothing we haven’t seen before ;-)).
I find that mixing the tomato cubes, minced red onion, coriander and lettuce stripes into the tempeh/bean mix makes it a lot easier for the kids as everything sticks together and tends to fall out less.
Now simply wedge in a few slices of avocado, drizzle a generous dollop of lime yogurt over the top and enjoy!
* Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that are fermented in the colon and promote healthy gut bacteria. The main source of prebiotics comes from fibre, more specifically from oligosaccharides. A healthy gut microbiome promotes immunity (or in other words, feeding your gut bacteria enough plant fibre is essential for a strong immune system and general health).
** “And what about those famous probiotics?” Probiotics are live microorganisms, which promote a healthy gut flora (they contain the actual bacteria, while prebiotics ‘feed’ the bacteria). Most tempeh you buy in shops have been pasteurised in order to increase shelf life. While this means that it doesn’t contain any probiotics anymore, the absence of live microorganisms doesn’t mean the final fermented product lacks a functional role. Not only has the fermentation process made it more digestible and the amino acids more bioavailable, the microbes may have also produced vitamins or other bioactive molecules which we can still benefit from after pasteurisation.