Maintenance – Cornmeal-crusted Tempeh – by Tal Ronnen

We Whole Food Mommies decided to get together and try some of Tal Ronnen’s recipes from his new book “The Conscious Cook” (publisher William Morrow).

This recipe was the first time any of us had cooked with Tempeh.  It was quite the adventure.  The recipe was quite labor intensive.

By the time we were done we really hoped we would hate the taste of it, that way we wouldn’t be tempted to make it again.  Well the opposite was true. 

The tempeh was delicious!  In the end, it was a lot of work, but it tasted like a truly gourmet meal.

With permission from Tal Ronnen, here is his recipe:

For the tempeh:

8 Tablespoons of shoyu soy sauce

1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick

2 cloves of garlic

2 medium dried ancho chiles

2 medium dried chipotle chiles

1 large bay leaf

10 whole peppercorns

In a large pot combine these ingredients and add 6 cups of water.  Bring to a boil  and add 2 8oz packages of tempeh cut into 1/4 inch slices.

Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes.  Remove the tempeh with a slotted spoon to a plate and let cool.

For the tomato sauce:

4 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 carrots, diced

1 celery stalk, dice

2 medium dired ancho chiles, stemmed

2 medium dired chipotle chiles, stemmed

2 (12oz) cans fire-roasted tomatoes, including juice

1/2 cup vegetable stock

3 Tbs Earth Balance butter

Place a large saute pan over medium heat.  Sprinkle the bottom with a pinch of sea salt and heat for 1 minute.  Add the oil and heat for 30 seconds, being careful not to let smoke.  This will createa nonstick effect.  Add the onion and saute for 3 minutes.  Add the garlic, carrots, celery and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned.  Add the chilies, tomatoes, and the stock.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes.

For the black bean puree:


2 TBS olive oil

1/2 onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 (15 oz) can black beans, including liquid

sea salt and pepper

In a small pot pver medium heat, heat oil for 30 seconds.  Add the onion and garlic and saute, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and translucent.  Add the beans and their liquid, season with salt and pepper tp taste, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.  Place the beans in a food processor and pulse until pureed.

For the green chile relish:

1 Anaheim chile

1 garlic clove, minced

1 shallot, minced

salt and pepper

Holding the chile with tongs, char over a gas burner intil blackened then peel, seed and finely dice it. (Alternatively, put the chile on a baking sheet under a broiler and cook, turning, until blackened on all sides.)  In a small bowl, combine the chile with the rest of the relish ingredients.  (We found this to be somewhat of a tedious process for such a small amount of relish, but in the add, the flavors combined perfectly with the rest of the dish and was definitely an important part of the meal.)

To fry the tempeh and serve:


1/2 cup cornmeal

salt and pepper

1/4 cup canola oil

In a mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal with salt and pepper to taste.  Dredge each piece of tempeh in the mixture, coating well.  Place a large saute pan over medium heat.  Sprinkle the bottom with a pinch of salt and heat for 1 minute.  Add the oil and heat for 30 seconds, being careful not to let it smoke.  Add the tempeh, in batches if necessary, and cook until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes on each side.  Remove from the pan.  Serve with Braised Kale, black bean puree, tomato sauce, and green chile relish.

Source: WFM 1-10

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