Meatless Monday Recipe: Tempeh & Peppers

Fairfield Green Food Guide readers are invited take the pledge to go meatless one day a week by joining Meatless Monday, a growing national movement to eat meat-free meals one day a week.  Each week we’ll post a seasonal recipe to support you in your efforts to eat a little greener (and healthier too!). We pledge not to compromise on flavor and to inspire you with new and exciting flavors. Area chefs are invited to submit favorite recipes (you too!) and today we’re featuring a delicious, seasonal dish from organic, vegetarian chef Linda Soper-Kolton, chef/owner of GreenGourmettoGo.

By Linda Soper-Kolton, Chef/Owner of GreenGourmettoGo

Photos by Analiese Paik

Peppers, tomatoes, garlic, onions, chiles, oregano and basil are all in season, making this a perfect late summer dinner.

During a recent class I was teaching to a bunch of carnivorous police officers looking for healthier alternatives to their current diets, I converted a familiar Italian favorite from meaty to meatless.  Sausage and peppers is a dish loaded with unhealthy saturated fat, calories and has very little that would serve to support good health. In this meatless version, we kick the sausage to the curb and replace it with tempeh while preserving the great taste of the dish. Traditionalists do not use tomatoes in their recipe for sausage and peppers. I’ve included it here as optional since there are some folks who enjoy the dish with the taste of tomatoes.  If you have fresh tomatoes, chop and substitute canned for fresh.

Editor’s Note: This dish is delicious! “Tastes just like sausage and peppers” was my husband’s comment at first bite. Peppers, tomatoes, onions, chile peppers, garlic, basil and oregano are in season, making this a perfect late summer recipe. I was able to reduce the water and tamari by half by laying the tamari slices in a single layer in a wide-bottomed pot. The idea is to have the slices covered with the cooking liquid so they are all evenly colored and flavored. To make ground fennel, gently toast fennel seed in a heavy bottomed (cast iron is perfect) skillet over medium low heat until it smokes, then put it in a spice grinder and pulverize it. The fennel and chili flakes (or fresh chile) give the dish authentic Italian sausage flavors.

Ingredient Notes: Tempeh is a fermented soybean cake that is dense, easily sliced, and a convenient meat substitute. It can also be made from other beans and grains.  Tamari is a dark , complex and very flavorful soy sauce made from fermenting soybeans and little to no wheat (It’s available wheat-free for gluten intolerant eaters). It is thicker and more flavorful than most soy sauces that are typically made with equal parts soybeans and wheat.

Give the tomatoes a quick boiling water bath to loosen their skins. Remove tomatoes from the water after they start to split or within 15 seconds to avoid turning them to mush. Let them cool before peeling, coring and chopping them.

Serves 4

20 minutes to prep the ingredients

25-45 minutes cooking time (depending upon whether you’re using tomatoes)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup organic tamari
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 package organic tempeh (any variety of flavors would work), cut into 1/4 inch strips
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 bell peppers, seeded and de-stemmed and cut into strips (green, red, yellow or mix them up)
  • 2 yellow onions, halved and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh leaves)
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil (1 tablespoon fresh chopped leaves)
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or 2 fresh chile peppers, seeded and chopped fine)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (optional)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes (optional) (substitute 1-2 lbs. fresh tomatoes, peeled, cored and chopped)
  • 4 to 6 fresh whole grain sandwich rolls (optional)

Wash, trim and prepare all the vegetables and herbs while the tempeh is simmering.

Directions:

1.  In a small pot, combine the tempeh, water, tamari and bay leaf. Simmer for 15 minutes and remove tempeh from pot.

2.  Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the tempeh and brown on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside on a plate.

3.  Keeping the pan over medium heat, add the peppers, onions, salt, and pepper and cook until golden brown and tender, about 20 minutes. Add the oregano, basil, garlic, chili flakes and fennel and cook 2 more minutes.

4. Optional step: Add the tomato paste and tomatoes, if using. Stir to combine, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the browned bits. Bring to a simmer.

Almost there. Once the tomatoes have thickened up a bit, it's time to add the tempeh back in and serve the dish.

5. Add the tempeh back to the pan and stir gently to combine. If using tomatoes, cook until the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes. If you are not using tomatoes, stir gently to combine and remove from heat.

Serve in bowls, or if serving as a sandwich, split the rolls in half lengthwise. Hollow out the bread from the bottom side of each roll, being careful not to puncture the crust. Fill the bottom half of the roll with sausage mixture. Top and serve sandwiches immediately.

Complete the dish with a fresh, whole grain roll or slices of artisan bread.

Linda Soper-Kolton is the chef/owner of
GreenGourmetToGo, a catering and event business specializing in organic vegetarian and vegan cuisine. GreenGourmetToGo’s weekly newsletter includes the week’s prepared meals menu, which is available for pre-order and in-store pick up each Thursday. GreenGourmetToGo is the partner restaurant in Sport Hill Farm’s Farm to Chef Connect Program, a hybrid prepared meals/CSA program available for monthly subscription. Linda is a registered “Chefs Move to Schools” chef, an initiative that’s part of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Campaign, and is dedicated to making healthy meals easy, approachable and delicious.

GreenGourmettoGo

2984 Fairfield Avenue
Bridgeport, CT 06605
203.873-0057 (store)
203.615.8139 (cell)
www.GreenGourmetToGo.com

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2 thoughts on “Meatless Monday Recipe: Tempeh & Peppers”

  1. Linda Soper-Kolton is a wizard. She makes healthy food taste delicious. And it’s great to know that Analiese tested this recipe for us and it got the stamp of approval from her meat-loving husband. Great post.

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