Smoky Tempeh; Tempeh-Kale-Avocado Sandwiches

My husband and I are lucky to have jobs that allow us to work from home from time to time. On a few of those work-from-home days we are actually at home together, while the girls are at school.  It’s like we are in college!  Sitting on the couch, tapping on our laptops, taking calls on our little gadgety phones.  Doing office work at home is far from perfect, but it is a welcome break, especially if one of us has had a particularly hectic time of it getting the girls dressed and off to school.

We used to use these occasional work-from-home days to grab a nice lunch in the neighborhood, but we quickly realized that — at least in Jackson Heights — there is an inverse relationship between the quality of the meal and the time spent getting it.  Sure, you can go to Sapori d’Ischia for what might be the best and most reasonable priced lunch anywhere, but then you probably won’t get any more work done for the rest of the day. Which kind of takes you from “working from home” to ‘taking a holiday.”

So now I’ve taken it upon myself to plan semi-decent home lunches that are not too elaborate, not too time-consuming, but gratifying enough to keep us from regretting the choice to eat at home. It’s also nice to make stuff that can take care of itself while you work, and then be ready with just a little assembly come lunch time.  These sandwiches have blanched kale, avocado, and smoky tempeh.  I also added some roasted eggplant slices, prepared like the okra in this post. . . . it came out super-delicious, and I wish I had actually paid attention to the steps. Next time….

Smoky Tempeh (a.k.a. “Veggie Bacon”)

This recipe is my own, but I did reference the ingredients on Lightlife’s Fakin’ Bacon to get some ideas for how to get the flavor I wanted — smoky, tangy and sweet. I think calling it “bacon” is pretty wrong, as the flavor is pretty far from that of actual bacon.  Then again, I don’t really care that much….

Makes 4-6 servings, if you are eating it in sandwiches or something like that.

  • 2 8-ounce packages of tempeh, any type
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup tamari
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Mix the vinegar, tamari, and sugar together. Pour into a small saucepan, and simmer over a low flame to reduce the sauce by about half. I use this cute little tiny pan that is for making the tempering for Indian food. It works for making a small amount of a sauce, too.

While the sauce is simmering down, slice the tempeh into fairly thin slices.  You don’t have to be fussy about getting an even thickness because it’s not going to make a big difference later on, unless eating pieces of tempeh of unequal thickness is really something that gets under your skin.

Place the sliced tempeh in a sealable plastic container, and pour the still-hot marinade over the slices.  Seal the container and leave it in the fridge for 10 minutes to a week. You can turn the container every now and again — especially at the beginning — to make sure all the slices of tempeh get the same opportunity to marinate.

When you are ready to eat the tempeh, cook it in a skillet with a little oil.  The pieces will get nice and crispy when cooking with a little oil in the pan.

This tastes great all by itself, in a salad, or in a BLT-type sandwich.


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