I’ve been eating this bowl repeatedly for the past few days and I cannot seem to get enough of it. Bowls similar to this one are a staple in my diet. They’re so versatile and adaptable. Throw in a hearty grain, some roasted veggies, fresh greens, avocado, fragrant herbs, a creamy sauce and a vegetarian protein (beans, lentils, tofu or in this case, tempeh) and you’ve got yourself a delicious, balanced and super satisfying meal. I never get bored with bowls like these because they’re never exactly the same. I like to switch things up according to the season and what’s available at the market.
My instagram feed has been bombarded lately with gorgeous asparagus, peas, ramps and all the beautiful ingredients the Spring harvest brings. I can’t wait to start cooking with them, but the truth is, it still feels a lot like winter around here and none of these beauties have made their appearance at the Farmers’ Market yet. This means Spring-inspired recipes will have to wait a bit. I hope you’ll stick with me. I’m offering you today a recipe that can be enjoyed pretty much all year long.
I usually go for a simple lemon-tahini sauce to dress most of my bowls, but I had a big bag of black sesame seeds sitting in my cupboard and I felt like experimenting a little. So I came up with a creamy toasted sesame sauce that plays really well against the orange-ginger tempeh. Ok, I know that the sauce may actually look a bit gross because of its black-greyish, mud-like color. But trust me on this, it’s pretty damn good.
ALL ABOUT TEMPEH
Although my love for legumes and lentils has no end, sometimes all I want is to bite into a more substantial protein. Something “meaty” and satisfying. To me, tempeh has exactly those qualities. I understand that tempeh might not appeal to everyone. It has a much stronger taste than tofu, which can repel some of you away. But I think its unique taste is delicious and its texture is truly unbeatable. Plus, it’s super interesting health-wise.
In case you’re not familiar with tempeh, let me give you a proper introduction. Tempeh originates from Indonesia and is usually made of fermented soybeans. I say usually because the tempeh I buy from the Farmer’s Market is actually made from fermented chickpeas, beans and/or grains. It’s from a local, artisanal company who produces both soy-based tempeh and soy-free alternatives. I’ve been buying my tempeh from them since I discovered their products about a year ago and it has been my absolute favorite ever since. If you’re in the Toronto area, you should definitely check them out. Otherwise, soy-based tempeh is easy to find in health food stores or in the organic section of most supermarkets.
What’s particularly interesting about tempeh is that it is fermented. The fermentation process makes tempeh much more digestible than other soy products and enhances its bioavailability and nutrient absorption. Like any other fermented food, it also provides us with gut-friendly probiotic bacteria. The vast majority of soy products packaged and sold at the supermarket is highly processed and the end result is quite far from the initial soybean it was made of. Tempeh contains the whole soybean and its production process involves much less processing, which makes it much closer to a “whole foods” than its soy counterparts. It is a great source of protein, fibre and minerals like manganese, copper, vitamin B2 and magnesium.
Because soybeans are one of the most genetically modified foods in the world, it is important to purchase organic tempeh. If you don’t, you will likely be consuming GMO soy.
Notes: You can substitute black sesame seeds for white sesame seeds if you don”t have them on hand. And feel free to add/sub with roasted veggies and grain of your choice.
Orange-Ginger Tempeh Bowl + Black Sesame Sauce
- 1 block tempeh mine was 240 g, cut into bite-size triangular or square pieces
- 1/2 cup freshly pressed orange juice the juice of about 1 large orange
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
Black Sesame Sauce
- 1/2 cup black sesame seeds + more to garnish
- 1 tbsp tahini
- 2 tbsp brown rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp tamari
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 medium garlic clove minced
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 large sweet potato about 3 cups diced
- A knob of coconut oil or ghee for cooking
- Sea salt + freshly ground black pepper to taste
- A large handful greens of your choice spinach, mixed greens, etc.
- 1 large avocado sliced
- A small handful fresh cilantro chopped
- 1 green onion scallion, minced
Roast the sweet potato
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Wash the sweet potato under running water with a scrub brush (if organic!) or peel it. Then cut into bite-sized dices. Place the diced sweet potato on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper and toss them with a bit of coconut oil or ghee, sea salt and pepper to taste.
Place the sheet in the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Flip and toss the chunks around, and place back in the oven. Roast for another 10 minutes or so, until the flesh is tender and the sides are slightly golden.
Prepare the quinoa:
Place uncooked quinoa into a fine-mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly under running water. Drain.
Place in a medium saucepan with 2 cups of water and a pinch of sea salt. Bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, lower heat and cook, covered, for 15 minutes until the quinoa has absorbed all the water.
Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes.
Prepare the tempeh
In a large, shallow dish, whisk together the orange juice and grated ginger. Add the tempeh pieces and toss well to coat. Set aside in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, flipping the pieces once.
Place the marinated tempeh in a medium-sized skillet. Cook over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes, without moving the pieces (this will allow the tempeh to brown nicely). Once the bottom is golden. flip and cook on the other side for another 3-4 minutes, or until nice and crispy.
Make the black sesame sauce
In a medium skillet, toast the black sesame seeds over medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until fragrant, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool.
Once cooled, blend the toasted sesame seeds with all the other sauce ingredients, using an immersion blender (hand blender) or in a high-speed blender. Add water to thin, starting with 1/2 cup and then adding more if needed, one tablespoon at a time, until you achieve the desired consistency.
Assemble the bowls
In serving bowls, spoon in the cooked quinoa, roasted sweet potatoes and seared tempeh. Add the leafy greens and sliced avocado. Drizzle the black sesame sauce on top and garnish with chopped cilantro, minced scallions and extra black sesame seeds.
It always seems impossible until it’s done.