Thursday, October 24, 2013

BBQ Tempeh with Smoky Kale and Sweet Potatoes

Even though on Monday, I had high hopes for a relaxed week, this week has been anything but. Cycling has started up again in full swing, with my first ever cyclocross race coming up on Sunday! And on the MIT front, Monday I got an email from my boss stating that my major source of funding needs a full progress report... by Friday. So naturally I am writing this post when I should be writing about stem cells and cartilage. To allow me to get everything done, I've been on the look-out for fast, easy, nutritious meals that won't keep me waiting when I get home from work (at 10pm.)

After yesterday's post on soy... I couldn't get my mind off of it! While I was in Washington DC a few weekends ago, I tried an amazing tempeh sandwich which made me wonder about this interesting version of the soybean. Tempeh is actually fermented soybean cake. Supposedly, the fermentation process can make it easier to digest for some people, which was why I wanted to give it a shot. Fermentation supposedly breaks down enzyme inhibitors, but I can not find an academic source to back this claim. Never the less, it was enough to convince me to give tempeh a try, and boy was it good!

BBQ Tempeh with Smoky Kale and Sweet Potatoes

BBQ Sauce (you could definitely use store bought... but I've been making my own lately!)

1 can diced tomatoes
3T smoke seasoning
1t chili pepper (or more, depending on potency and your taste)
1t garlic
1T apple cider vinegar
1/4c molasses
1/4c brown sugar

Add all ingredients to a food processor and food process until smooth. Taste and add more sweet/ spice/ smoke to taste.

Tempeh, Kale, and Sweet Potatoes

1 package tempeh (be careful if you are allergic to gluten! The tempeh sold at TJ's isn't gluten free)
1 giant sweet potato
1 package fresh kale
1 leek, diced
splash olive oil

1. Cut tempeh into strips and marinate in BBQ sauce in a plastic bag. Remove all access air to help BBQ sauce be absorbed by the vacuum effect. This step should be done in the morning or the night before for maximum infusion of flavor.
2. Peel sweet potato. Cube and place in a pot of boiling water. Boil for 20 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender.
3. In a large pot, add olive oil and sautee the leek. Add BBQ sauce and the kale. It should fill the whole pot top to bottom at first, but it will cook down.
4. Meanwhile, remove tempeh from marinade. Cook tempeh like bacon on a skillet!
5. Once both the kale and tempeh are done, remove from heat and serve warm. Enjoy!


  1. My apologies! It was brought to my attention that my directions were a little vague on this recipe, which was very bad of me, since I know that 2/3 of the main ingredients are pretty new to most people.
    The kale is a bit difficult to truly "sauté" at first since it cooks down so much, but you just kind of stuff it in the pot and try to swirl a bit to keep it cooking down evenly. It's hard to burn since it's such a hearty green. Once it cooks down, it's easy to stir and cook like a stir-fry
    Cooking the tempeh would be like cooking chicken, or any piece of meat in a skillet: lay it out flat, cook one side, then flip it and cook the other side. I think it's maybe 5 minutes per side, or until the BBQed edges look crispy.

  2. For some reason I smelled Buffalo sauce all morning at Shedd Park...any ideas for making Buffalo sauce for tempeh?

  3. Ha, Sam, I think that was the chili! Everyone seemed to have chili in the afternoon. I have a good recipe for Buffalo Cauliflower Poppers, but was going to save them for Super Bowl week. I'll see what I can do about making a buffalo recipe before then :)