Something with tempeh was my mother's challenge to me for the evening meal last night.
Tempeh is a fermented food made from soybeans that has a firm texture and slightly nutty flavor. It is made from the whole soybean, giving it a higher protein, dietary fiber, and vitamin content than other soy-based foods. Because it is fermented, it is also easier to digest. Like tofu, tempeh readily absorbs the flavors of other foods with which it is cooked, making it versatile for cooking. Its texture stands up well in marinades. Probably my favorite preparation is pan frying, which yields a crispy exterior and soft spongy middle.
My mother's tempeh request was due to its potential cancer-fighting properties (she is currently battling uterine cancer). Several studies have shown that the potent antioxidant in tempeh inhibits malignant cell growth and possibly kills human cancer cells. Other items on my mom's anti-cancer list (due to anti-cancer properties that she's read about from various sources): shitake mushrooms, beets, blueberries, carrots, garlic, ginseng, green tea, and fruit (especially grapes). When I battled my way through the rain to the grocery store yesterday afternoon, I made a point of loading up on many foods from this list and incorporated a few into last night's dinner.
I was originally planning on making this dish with green beans. But as I perused the organic vegetables at the grocery store, the lacinato kale, with its beautiful dark blueish green leaves, called out to me. I decided to let it replace the green beans in the recipe that had formed in my head. I am glad I did.
My mom watched in the kitchen as I prepared this meal, somewhat skeptical based on the ingredients that it would turn into something she would want to eat. I think this was mostly based on the inclusion of kale. The last time I tried to convince her of the awesomeness of kale, I made a bad substitution (we were out of balsamic, but instead of running to the store, I tried substituting red wine and rice vinegar... not something I would recommend) that rendered the resulting garlicky kale much less appetizing than it would otherwise have been. I promised that this kale would be much better (hoping desperately that she would like it!).
A couple bites erased my mom's skepticism. Her comment was something like this is actually really good, which I decided to take as a compliment. We discussed that this is a nutrient-packed, healing meal: cancer fighting tempeh, garlic, and shitake mushrooms, whole grain and protein-rich quinoa, healing ginger, and vitamin-packed kale. It also tasted great. The flavor was well-balanced garlicky-salty-sweet, with the crunch of the pan-fried tempeh offsetting the soft textures of the other components. Here's what I did:
Garlic Ginger Quinoa with Kale & Pan Fried Tempeh
3/4 c. quinoa
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
3 Tbsp. tamari
3 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 bunch lacinato kale, center stem removed and roughly chopped
1 handful shitake mushrooms, sliced
6 oz. tempeh, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 scallions, sliced on the diagonal
Cook quinoa according to directions. Set aside.
Combine tamari, maple syrup, and sesame oil in a small bowl. Set aside.
Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger. Cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add kale. Cover and allow to steam for 2 minutes. Uncover. Add mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally. Add quinoa and tamari mixture. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Cover and reduce heat to low to keep warm.
Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a separate pan over medium-high heat. Add tempeh. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tempeh is crisp and golden.
Serve quinoa mixture on individual plates. Top with pan fried tempeh and scallions.
One year ago: pear bread