When I made the list of High Protein Vegan Foods, tempeh stood out as most mysterious. I mean, what is it? The dense speckled brick looks more like a diseased internal organ than food. But in fact, tempeh IS food, and a highly nutritious, protein-rich food at that.
Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans. However, unlike tofu, which is made from soy milk, tempeh is made from whole soybeans, fermented through a natural culturing process that binds the beans into a cake. Because tempeh retains the whole bean, it is higher in protein and fiber than tofu.
My easy tempeh recipe is an evolution of my Auntie Jo’s sloppy joes, a quintessential American food for sure, traditionally made with ground beef, onions, tomato sauce, and bbq seasoning, then slopped on a bun and eaten with lots of napkins. You don’t need to make this with tempeh – my mom makes hers with MorningStar Farms soy crumbles. I tend to prefer cooking with unadulterated whole ingredients and the tempeh does a nice job of crumbling into the sauce and soaking in the flavors.
The hardest part about this recipe is finding vegan bbq sauce; many sauces contain Worchestershire sauce (i.e. anchovies), honey, and dubious processed ingredients. The only bottled vegan bbq sauce I’m aware of is Annie’s Naturals BBQ Sauce. Of course, you can always make your own, which would make this recipe less easy, but probably much tastier!
Tempeh Sloppy Joes
200g tempeh, roughly crumbled
100g bbq sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 can of stewed tomatoes
A dash or two of liquid smoke
salt to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan
- Add the onion, celery and green pepper and sauté until tender
- Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes or more (the longer the better, the tempeh will crumble more as it cooks)
- Serve on hamburger buns with lettuce, tomato and sliced onion (if desired). Or, for a tidier sandwich, stuff it in a pita, or wrap it in a tortilla!
Per serving: 200 Calories (kcal); 9g Total Fat; 11g Protein; 22g Carbohydrate
Per serving (with whole grain bun): 310 Calories; 12g Total Fat; 15g Protein; 41g Carbohydrates
Approximate total cost of preparation, including buns: £6.30 (£1.60 per serving)
Nutrition information derived from the USDA food database.