Sunday, October 27, 2013

Smoky Spiced Tempeh and Quinoa Salad

Good food is good food, no matter the amount of animal protein it contains. Although I'm most certainly not a vegan or vegetarian, most of my meals fall under one of those categories. I'm not a fan of faux meat products, but appreciate soy products for exactly what they are and am game when tingredients like tempeh appear in a recipe. Partnering with super food quinoa, this probably could only sound more like a vegan hippie recipe if nutritional yeast was in the name, but I still couldn't get enough of it.

Tempeh and quinoa are nutritious, though fairly neutral ingredients, and this expertly curated spice blend is why the salad is so delicious. I doubt I would be able to re-create spice list just from taste, but I do know that each bite is packed with smoky, spicy, and savory notes that keep me shoveling this versatile salad into my face. Spread on bread or into a tortilla or pita it makes for a fine sandwich, a delightful salad atop greens, and a delicious spread for crackers, as the source recipe suggests. My first inclination after making it, however, was none of these options. While portioning into lunch-size servings, I realized that texture makes it perfectly suited for a "veggie" burger, so I formed a patty and threw it into a hot pan straight away. It would have been delicious with just a smear of Dijon and some greens, but I couldn't resist melting some raw cheddar over the top (to the horror of vegans everywhere).

What this salad lacks in beauty, it makes up for in flavor, and it is a great opportunity to turn people around on a couple of ingredients that often give pause. But even if you're not ready to take the plunge with tempeh and quinoa, you've still got the perfect new spice mix to try out in a batch of veggie burgers or tuna salad.

Smoky Spiced Tempeh and Quinoa Salad
adapted from The Kitchn
makes about 2 cups

8 ounces tempeh
1 cup cooked and cooled quinoa
2 tablespoons regular or vegan mayonnaise
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Small dash of ground cloves
Small dash of ground cinnamon

1. Cut the tempeh into 1-inch chunks (no need to be precise). Fill a saucepan with an inch or two of water and place a steamer basket inside. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Place the tempeh in the basket, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Steam for 15 minutes, remove tempeh, and let cool.

2. Place the tempeh in a food processor and pulse until crumbly. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until the mixture comes together. Taste and adjust seasonings, if desired. (Alternatively, you can crumble the tempeh and mix in the other ingredients by hand.)

3. Serve with a green salad, as a taco filling, or as a spread for sandwiches or crackers.

4. Salad may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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