A Soy and Potatoes Meal

So obviously I am a vegetarian and this is a site with mostly vegetarian and vegan food experiences, either in my kitchen or out in restaurants.  But I don’t want it to be a site that only can be read and enjoyed by vegetarians.  Part of what I’d like omnivore readers to take away from this site is that vegetarians can eat deliciously.  

I admit, I have pretty much never eaten meat.  I officially stopped when I was 4, but my parents tell me I never really ate it even before then.  I have no recollection of meat.  At this point, I also don’t even remember why I decided to be a vegetarian or what I said to my parents that somehow convinced them that, at age 4, I wasn’t kidding when I said I didn’t want to eat any animals anymore.  So I have no real thoughts of “going back” and there’s nothing tempting to me about meat.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t still understand that there can be real tangible health benefits to eating a vegetarian or largely vegetarian diet, and I do try to get my friends and family to consider pushing the balance of their diets more towards vegetables than meats.

Compared to my sister, who has the same family history that I do, I am at lower risk for heart disease, stroke, and many cancers because my diet is low in bad cholesterol, high in good cholesterol, low in fat, and high in antioxidants and other “cancer-busters.”  That’s not to say that I’m the picture of perfect health – far from it – I need to get my fat ass to the gym like 3 times as much as I currently do, but at least I know my diet is pretty on-point.  

That said, I’m always trying to get more proteins into my diet.  Some vegetarians will say that its easy to get protein as a veg – but its not.  I mean, its not HARD, but you have to think about it, which I guess is not the case if you eat a steak at Sunday dinner and get enough protein to last you a week.  So recently I decided to try my hand at tempeh.  Half the times I’ve had tempeh its been really gross.  Half the times its been pretty damn good.  Good challenge, right?

Tempeh Vin

This dish was fairly easy to make, and turned out to be delicious.  Tempeh is heartier than tofu but not as meaty as seitan. Like other vegetable proteins it will soak up whatever flavors you throw at it.  It is very tough unless you either soak it, steam it, or cook it in a liquid.  I decided to steam it before pan frying, and then decided at the last minute to make a sauce.  SO…

  • 1 block tempeh, cut into 1/4 inch strips, then steamed for 10-15 minutes
  • 2-3 Tbsp coconut oil (tres healthy, but you can use canola oil or olive oil if you prefer)
  • salt
  1. Heat coconut oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.  Fry tempeh for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown.  Don’t let it burn.
  2. Place on paper towels to drain excess oil, sprinkle lightly with salt while still hot.


  • 1 1/2 cups red wine
  • 3 Tbsp butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  1. Place all ingredients in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, whisking or stirring often
  2. When sauce has reduced, remove it from heat and allow to sit 1-2 minutes (it will get slightly thicker or creamier in texture)
  3. Whisk thoroughly before pouring over tempeh

I served it with roasted potatoes and haricots vert that were lightly sauteed in coconut oil (on this you have to trust me that green beans sauteed in coconut oil is heavenly and I will never ever go back to using butter or another oil).  A very filling and satisfying meal, that I will likely make again in the not-too-distant future.

6 Responses to “A Soy and Potatoes Meal”

  1. 1 linette February 1, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    I have had a couple bad experiences tempeh, and consequently have avoided it. I want to like it. Perhaps I will try your recipe!

  2. 2 capri February 1, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    DO it. If anyone can make it delicious, it’ll be you! There is definitely a difference between tempeh that has been “tenderized” – the steaming worked fine for me, but I’ve also had it out at places that slowly cooked it in the sauce or marinated it for an hour or two before cooking and that seemed to work okay.

    Also the fried tempeh plain with no sauce kind of tasted like whole wheat french fries, which was pretty good?

  3. 3 Claudia February 2, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    Yay! And update! A recipe! YAY! I’ve been slowly enjoying my way through your wonderful cookbook. Most recently the cashew encrusted tofu with butternut squash puree and really dig the butternut squash and ginger combo.

    So I have a totally dumb-ass question that shows, even when I was a full vegetarian I never indulged in the meat alternatives. How does one steam tempeh?

  4. 4 Claudia February 2, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    I’m even more dumb than I originally thought….you did say how to steam it…Nevermind!

  5. 5 SecondApril February 3, 2009 at 10:39 am

    any combination of boiling – baking – marinating – grilling will work wonders too. Check out the tempeh tacos recipie in veganomocon – amazing!

  6. 6 capri February 3, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Claudia if you have any difficulty just let me know and I’ll give you the word – I’m glad you’re enjoying my cookbook, that reminds me that I need to take pictures of it and make a blog post about it!

    SecondApril – thanks, I still don’t have veganomicon, but it is definitely high on my “wants” list… in fact last time I was at the bookstore I had it narrowed down to Veganomicon or How to Grow More Vegetables Than You Ever Thought Possible, and gardening won out…. but tempeh tacos sounds SO good!

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