When people find out I don't eat meat (even after I tell them that I do, because fish is a meat), they always ask if I like tofu. My answer is always shockingly specific. I like the ultra-firm kind that does not have any juiciness to it, and I like the ultra-soft, almost custard-like, melt-in-your-mouth fresh tofu that is served warm. I had this recently on a food tour of Chinatown in Flushing, Queens. The woman selling the homemade tofu had a shop set up within a flower store, and her product was phenomenal. Anything that is not completely solid or sold at a florist's, however, I'm not a huge fan of.
Tempeh, tofu's overlooked fermented soy bean brother, is a completely different story. It is firm, crumbly, and nutty. It sometimes has a slightly tangy flavor, which is an acquired taste, but its texture makes it a great ingredient to use in dishes that can contain meat. Don't get me wrong--it's not a substitute-- but it does bear some resemblance to meat. A nice chart on the differences between tofu and tempeh can be found at FitSugar.
This week I made BBQ Tempeh Sandwiches topped with sprouts, avocado, tomato, and a cumin honey-mustard spread. To accompany it, I made an Elote & Sweet Potato Salad. Elote is the name for corn on the cob served in Mexico with mayo, chile powder, lime, and crumbly fresh cheese. I adapted this delicious and indulgent dish into a healthier but still hearty salad with a lime-yogurt dressing and sauteed sweet potatoes. It's perfect served room temperature or slightly cooler.
From The Walking Cookbook
Yield: 4 sandwiches
- 1 pack tempeh
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup BBQ sauce
- 2 avocados
- 1 cup alfalfa sprouts
- 2 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp mayonnaise
- juice from 2 limes
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- salt to taste
- 4 hamburger buns, toasted
- Cut each rectangle of tempeh in half. Then slice down the middle of each piece to make four thin rectangular slices.
- Steam the pieces of tempeh for 3-4 minutes each, then place in a preheated pan with 1 tbsp oil.
- Cook on each side until browned, about 1 minute per side. Remove and place on a plate.
- Brush the tempeh on both sides with BBQ sauce and return to the pan. Cook for 2 minutes on each side. Remove and brush again with BBQ sauce.
- Slice the avocados and tomatoes and place on a serving platter. Place the sprouts in a bowl (or if you are like me, keep them in a container to save a dish!)
- In a bowl, combine the spread ingredients (dijon mustard through salt) and mix well.
- Assemble the sandwich: Spread the toasted bun with cumin honey mustard. Place a slice of tempeh, avocado, tomato, and sprouts on top. Add more BBQ sauce if desired. Enjoy!
Elote & Sweet Potato Salad
From The Walking Cookbook
Yield: 6 large servings
- 2 large sweet potatoes
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 5 large ears of corn
- 1/2 cup greek yogurt
- zest and juice from 1 lime
- 1 tbsp fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 cup queso fresco, crumbled (another crumbly, fresh, salty cheese like feta will work too)
- Peel the sweet potato and cut into small cubes (just smaller than a board game die). Place in a bowl and toss with oil.
- Heat a non-stick pan over a medium-high flame and put one layer of sweet potato cubes in the pan (I did this in three batches). Cook for 4 minutes, flip, cook for another 4 minutes, pour in 1/4 cup of water, cover, and cook for 4 minutes. Remove the lid and test the largest cube to make sure the sweet potato is cooked through. Once cooked, place on a plate to cool off a bit.
- Repeat with the remaining sweet potatoes.
Slice and organize by size
Cut each stack into strips then into cubes
They will probably fall. That's ok. Just coat them in some oil and cook.
- Simultaneously heat a separate pan over a medium-high flame and place the husked ears of corn inside. Cook for 2-3 minutes, and rotate once the corn kernels begin to char a bit. Continue until all sides of the corn have a browned exterior.
- Once the corn has cooled a bit, cut the kernels off the cob and place in a bowl.
- Add the cooled sweet potatoes to the bowl of corn.
- In a separate bowl, combine the dressing ingredients (greek yogurt through cayenne pepper) and mix well. Taste, and add more yogurt and/or lime juice if the dressing is too spicy.
- Dress the salad and mix well.
- Crumble in the cheese and mix well. Serve room temperature or slightly chilled.