|Tempeh pictured at left with vegetarian corn bread stuffing|
I have a vegetarian friend who often comes to Thanksgiving dinner. Although I’m not vegetarian, I respect her choices and, in my quest to be a gracious host, I want her to feel she’s eating a meal as special as what my other guests are enjoying.
I could just point her to the mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, but depriving her of an equivalent to turkey, gravy and stuffing--the centerpieces of the meal--would make me feel I wasn’t doing my job as host. So I set aside a small amount of the stuffing ingredients before adding sausage and chicken stock and use vegetable stock instead. And I make a non-turkey gravy (usually caramelized onion or mushroom).
Substituting the turkey is a little trickier. I don’t have room in the oven for a “tofurkey,” and besides, no one else would want it. A few weeks ago I tested a roasted stuffed squash, but I wasn’t pleased with the results.
The dish I’ve turned to for years, which she claims to really like, is Broiled Marinated Tempeh. Tempeh is a type of fermented soy cake. The product available at Giant, Lightlife Three Grain Organic Tempeh, also has brown rice, barley and millet. It’s an 8 oz. cake, which is two servings. So in the grand Thanksgiving tradition, it’s enough for her to have a leftover serving.
The recipe I use is quite flexible and encourages you to experiment with flavors. Since tempeh originated in southeast Asia, with a little thought about seasoning, you could steer this more toward India, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia or whatever. I make mine fairly generically Asian.
Broiled Marinated Tempeh
Adapted from Basic Oven-Baked Marinated Tempeh from Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon
2 tbsp. soy sauce (I use tamari, a concentrated soy sauce)
1 1/2 tbsp. rice vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. honey
2 tsp. dark sesame oil
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 oz. tempeh cake, cut in half
Other flavors suggested by the original recipe:
1 tsp. pickapeppa, 1-2 tsp. fresh grated ginger, 1/4-1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper, 1 tsp. ground coriander, 1 tbsp. ketchup or tomato paste (the recipe suggests using any combination of flavors, up to three)
1. Combine soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, honey, sesame oil and red pepper flakes in a wide shallow dish appropriate for marinating the tempeh (I like to use a 5 X 8 sealable plastic container). Place the cakes in the marinade and turn over to coat both sides. Marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes to an hour or longer in the refrigerators (up to 2 days), turning occasionally.
2. Preheat oven to 375 F.
3. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (optional, but easier to clean) and spray or brush with canola oil. Place tempeh pieces on baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Flip the cakes over and bake another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and serve with gravy or other flavorful sauce.
2. Fifteen minutes before you are ready to cook the tempeh, preheat the oven to 375°F.
3. Place the marinated tempeh pieces on a nonstick baking sheet or one that has been sprayed with cooking spray, allowing plenty of air space between chunks. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, then flip the pieces over and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and use as desired.