Tempeh rocks. It is an excellent source of fiber and plant protein, has bioavailable calcium, and is a fermented food meaning its nutrients are more digestible and making it a source of probiotics. With all these bonuses, this bonafide superfood sure has a lot going for it, so why do so few people know about it or eat it?
Well, it does look a little weird. Being fermented with the fungus Rhizopus oligosporus, it has a white membrane-like mycelium holding it together and can develop black spots that turn some off despite it’s superfood status. Originally from Indonesia, tempeh is traditionally made with soybeans but can be used with all kinds of legumes and grains. My friends Betsy and Gunter have a tutorial on their site for the motivated and inspired among you on how to make your own tempeh. I’ve had their tempeh and it is superb–way better than store-bought but beggars can’t be choosers…and most days I’m a tempeh beggar.
If you’ve never had tempeh before, this is a nice way to ease you into it. Who doesn’t like a crunchy bite with a chewy, nutty interior? And if you want some adding zing, try dipping it in a wasabi sauce, spicy peanut sauce, or avocado pesto. Ketchup is a friend of all things baked and fried too.
You are going to be surprised at how easy this recipe is. You may even do a happy dance or give yourself a fist bump when you pull out a luscious tray of these crispy bites.
To make them, all you do is cube some tempeh, dredge it in diluted yogurt, roll it in the crispy coating, and bake. This can definitely go from cutting board to mouth in 30 minutes, which makes it a realistic dish for most of our busy lives.
Makes 32 Bites
8oz block tempeh
6oz plain vegan yogurt (I use this one)
1/4 cup unsweetened almond or soy milk
1/4 cup polenta or medium-ground cornmeal
1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp vegan chicken-style seasoning
1/2 tsp sea salt
Nonstick spray (I use Trader Joe’s Coconut Oil Spray)
For more flavor, you can marinade the tofu for a minimum of 30 minutes or up to overnight before proceeding with the recipe:
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
3 Tbsp whole grain mustard
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp sea salt
Cut tempeh in half lengthwise and then cut each piece in half again, leaving you with 4 long strips of tempeh. Then cube these strips into small squares. I made 7 cuts leaving 32 tempeh bites.
If using marinade, mix ingredients together in a bowl and add the tempeh. Coat well and set aside for 30 minutes or until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Set out two small bowls. In one add the yogurt and milk. Stir and add more milk as needed to thin out the yogurt so that it will form a nice glaze on the tempeh. In the other bowl add the polenta, bread crumbs, garlic powder, “chicken” seasoning, and salt. Mix well.
Line a baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Set up an assembly line: tempeh, yogurt, and polenta-bread crumb mixture. One by one, take each tempeh square and dip it into the yogurt so that it is thinly coated and then place it in the second bowl and press into the polenta mix so it is coated on all sides. Place the tempeh on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining tempeh.
Spray the tempeh with the cooking spray and place in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.