Need a new idea for a vegetarian sandwich? Grab some tempeh and add the flavors of potato salad for a winning combo. Quick, easy, healthy, and delish!
As happens on many occasions when I'm cooking tempeh, I found myself starting at it. I know how important it is to eat this nutrient-dense food, but sometimes it's hard to come up with fresh ideas, ya know?
Then, inspiration hit.
So let me show you how to make this deeeeeelicious filling. I think you'll enjoy it as much as Jeff and I did.
I had defrosted some tempeh the night before, and had a small, odd assortment of veggies (none of which would have been enough to constitute their own side dish).
In searching through the Tempeh Vegan Flavor Matches, the flavors that kept calling to me were salty and pungent; namely, green olives with pimentos and Dijon mustard. This is what I was in the mood for and decided to base the recipe around them.
And that's when it occurred to me they'd be great in some sort of sandwich. And grating the tempeh would be a nice change from the slabs that many sandwiches call for. And that, my friends, is how the wheels began to turn. Squeeeeeek! ;)
To begin, I had to first cook the tempeh for at least 10-15 minutes before using it -- it's very important to allow the tempeh to go through this process because it makes it softer and ready to accept the flavors you'll mix into it. (And by the way, you ARE buying organic tempeh out there, aren't you? Good. Just checkin'.)
You can use a steamer if you'd like, but I recommend boiling it in a small covered saucepan with some veggie broth to add a little extra flavor, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes.
As you can see from this photo, the slabs are not submerged in the veggie broth. But you can certainly cover the whole shebang if you'd like.
These are two techniques you can play around with.
The difference being when you submerge the entire thing in veggie broth, it becomes much more moist and the flavors really soak in. But since I knew I'd be mixing mine with Dijon and maybe even some "mayo", I wanted to keep the flavor a little less in the "veggie broth" territory. Alternatively, I could have just used plain water. Experiment and see which way you like it best.
Use a fork to remove to a rack to cool slightly, or just lay it on a plate. (Be sure to reserve some of the broth.) When tempeh is cool, you can grate it or crumble it with your fingers. Set aside.
This next step begins by pouring off some of the veggie broth (or water) from the saucepan so you only have about 1/4 to 1/3 cup or so at the bottom. Place about 2 cups of chopped spinach over the broth and cover the saucepan with a lid, heating until wilted (takes about 3 minutes).
Spinach tends to release liquid as it wilts. So let's just go ahead and drain all the liquid from the saucepan at this point. You can use a colander, or just carefully tilt the saucepan into the sink using a lid to help with the draining so the spinach doesn't slip out along with the liquid.
I always like to flavor my greens after wilting, so into the spinach stir in some organic Tamari (about a teaspoon) and some balsamic vinegar (about 1/2 teaspoon).
Set aside -- you'll use this wilted spinach as a layer on top when putting it all together.
I grabbed a large bowl, and added the grated tempeh to it. The next ingredients I selected were to make it "sandwich spread-y".
The idea I had in mind was similar to my favorite vegan potato salad. So I grated a couple carrots, chopped a stalk of celery and two green onions, along with about 6 pimento-stuffed olives.
Stir it all together with some vegan mayo and Dijon mustard (about 2 Tablespoons of each). Then taste. Mine needed a bit of sweetening, so I added a couple Tablespoons of coconut nectar, but you can use your healthy sweetener of choice, such as maple syrup or granulated sweetener. Finish off with some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Spoon tempeh filling onto your favorite bread -- I recommend big, thick slices of multigrain bread, but choose your favorite. Using tongs or a fork, remove wilted spinach from the pan, squeezing any excess moisture out as you do so, and place on top of the filling.
Serve with organic tortilla chips.