You simply must try this tasty dish next time you're cooking tempeh. The sweet and savory pairing of the garlic and dates means big flavor! Perfect for a busy night.
It's a perfect example of taking some basic whole foods and whipping them up into an easy dish. It's delicious, and will also give you some ideas to play around with for future meals.
The main ingredient is tempeh. If you have not had it before, I am very happy to introduce you.
Tempeh is a fermented soy product that comes in patty form and can be used in savory dishes.
Okay, now that may not sound very appetizing, but you might get excited when you find out how fun it is to cook with, and just how versatile this healthy soy food is.
"Sassy...SOY?!" (Oh, boy.)
I heard THAT! :)
Yes, soy has certainly become a bit controversial, mostly because of all those soy foods which are super processed and contain artificial ingredients and flavors (which make them fun to eat, but really should not become the basis of a healthy vegan diet).
Instead, since tempeh is fermented it magically becomes superbly good for you, and the fermentation increases the likelihood your body can easily digest this whole food and get at the nutrients inside.
It has a slightly nutty, mushroomy flavor. It's fun to play around with because you can use it in its patty form (like a burger); or grate or crumble it and use it like you traditionally used ground beast; or cube it like we'll do today.
By the way, ALWAYS buy organic tempeh!
You will also find dates included in this fantastic meal. Dates are a whole food as well and add a delightful sweetness to the dish which helps to balance the flavors.
I love adding dates to a dish - they always seem to add juuuust the right touch I am looking for.
Beware of the date nub! Sometimes your dates will have a little nubby thing on the end that's pretty hard (similar to those you find on avocados). Just discard it. I am always sure to remove those before I begin using my dates in my cooking so I don't forget.
Next time you are stumped and your dish needs "something" but you just can't put your finger on it, try dates. And chopped dates are always fun to run across in a yummy spoonful of your favorite soups and stews.
So here's how this delightful dish came together.
To start, cut your tempeh in 2 chunky halves, and add to a small pot filled with about a cup of simmering veggie broth. Cover, and simmer for about 10-15 minutes which softens it and allows it to accept more flavors.
When the time is up, and since you don't want to burn your fingers during the next step, remove both halves from the pot with a fork and set aside to cool. A cooling rack works well, but you can also just put them on a plate. When slightly cool, cut those two chunky halves into large cubes and set it aside.
To peel your garlic clove, lay the clove on a cutting board, set the flat side of a chef's knife (closest to the handle) over the clove, then carefully hit the flat side of the knife facing up with an open palm or the bottom of your closed fist. You'll see the skin has removed itself from the garlic clove -- just toss the skin.
Now, where were we? :)
Coarsely chop a couple cloves of garlic and add them to a large pan that has been heating over medium heat. I like to add 1/4 cup veggie broth to the pan to "fry" the garlic in, but you can also use a swipe of olive oil across the pan.
I used to always make a little bit of veggie broth in a small pot, and then remove 1/4 cup for use in "frying". But that gets old VERY quickly.
Now, I add 1/4 cup or so of water to the pan, and then crumble a tiny bit of a veggie cube in, then whisk with a fork. Much faster and easier!
Always be careful to never burn your garlic. Once garlic is burned, you have to start all over again because you cannot escape from that burned garlic flavor and it will carry over into the rest of your dish.
So you just want to get the garlic tender, that's all.
Since we want to make a bit of a "sauce", go ahead and add to the garlic some vegetable broth (about 2 cups) and Dijon mustard (just a dab) because it's such an excellent flavor match for our main ingredient. Next, add about 6 pitted chopped dates for sweetness. Simmer your sauce, uncovered, until it thickens a bit.
Fold tempeh into the mix. You don't want to stir this mix too quickly because sometimes when you do that your tempeh will begin to break down. And we want to keep it cubed. Gently heat just until warmed back up again.
Spoon over a mound of cooked brown rice or buckwheat/kasha. Serve with a crisp green salad.