Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tempeh Beanballs Primavera with Cajun Marinara

I was a vegetarian for about 12 years, and this was the first time I have cooked with tempeh. It always looked... skeevy. Now that I am addicted to this cookbook - "Appetite for Reduction" - I decided I must try tempeh. I had it in the fridge for several weeks, before I took the plunge. This recipe for pasta primavera with tempeh beanballs and cajun marinara, is really terrific. I used brown rice, instead of pasta, which was a definite mistake on my part. This needs to be served over whole wheat pasta. Seriously. Anyway, there were a lot of components to this dish, but honestly, it was worth it. These faux meatballs are perfect. They are easy to make, and they are surprisingly delicious, and amazingly healthy. I added peas, zucchini, and peppers to my cajun marinara, and it was a really full bodied, flavorful marinara. In fact, part of me thought it was a tad over spiced, due to the plentiful amount of oregano and thyme in the sauce, but I still loved it. We had a lot of leftovers, to which I added pasta, instead of rice. I can't wait to make this again. It was such a filling, comforting, and tasty vegetarian dish. Kevin and the kids liked it, too. Mmmmm... Another thumbs up for Isa Moskowitz. Who knew vegan cooking could be so... perfect??

Make this. It's a tomatoey, comforting pot of yum. 4 Bowls!

Cajun Marinara
Adapted from Appetite for Reduction

1 tsp of olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp of dried thyme (I think I'll reduce by half next time)
1 tsp dried oregano
Feshly ground black pepper
1 (24 oz) can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes
1 tbl Cajun Spice Blend (I used Penzey's)

Veggies (swap out your own, if you want!)
1 cup of peas
1 zucchini
1 sliced onion
Thinly sliced pepper

Preheat a 2-quart pot over medium/low heat. Saute the zucchini, onion, peppers in the oil for several minutes, or until browned garlic and red pepper flakes in the oil for about a minute. Add thyme, oregano, and pepper, and saute for a minute more, adding a splash of water if necessary. Add the tomatoes, cajun seasoning, and salt, and stir everything together. Cover the pot, leaving a gap for steam to escape, and cook for 10 minutes. Taste for salt and seasoning.

Make this. It's a great meat substitute, and my meat loving family adored it. 4 Bowls!

Black Eyed Pea and Tempeh Beanballs

Adapted from Appetite for Reduction


12 ounces of tempeh (1.5 packages)
1 (15 oz) can black eyed peas
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp of dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
Black Pepper (several pinches)
1 tbl soy sauce
1 tbl tomato paste
1 tbl balsamic vinager
1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1/4 tsp salt

First, prep a steamer, to steam the tempeh. Steaming tempeh takes out the bitter taste, which some dislike. I've never tried it un-steamed, and didn't want to chance it! Once the steamer is ready, break the tempeh into bite-size pieces, and steam for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350, and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, use a fork to mash the beans. They should be well mashed, with no whole beans left, but not totally smooth, like a puree. Grate in the garlic (I used bottled, mince garlic). Add the hebs and spices, soy sauce, tomato paste, and balsamic vinegar, and mix well.

When the tempeh is done, add it to the mix, and mash well. It's good if it's still steaming, because it will help all the flavors meld, before baking. When the mix is cool enough to handle (a few minutes), add the bread crumbs and salt. Taste for salt (the batter may be a bit bitter, but it mellows when cooked).

Using about 2 tablespoons of the mix per ball, roll the mixture into walnut size balls, placeing them on the baking pan. Spray liberally with cooking spray, and cover loosely with tinfoil. Bake for 15 minutes, flip the balls, and bake for 10 more minutes, uncovered.

Serve over pasta, with marinara!

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