This recipe is inspired from the cooking of my friend Katie. Two years ago, she introduced me to the concept of a Chimichurri Sauce, something that I had never had before.
“You basically blend parsley with red wine vinegar, green onions, garlic and olive oil, etc. My parents put it on steak, but it’s really good with tempeh too,” she explained to me.
It was the fourth of July, 2007, and she went about preparing grilled tempeh with chimichurri sauce, served with homemade heirloom tomato salsa, corn chips and roasted blue potatoes.
The tempeh came out lovely grilled over low heat, with a mild flavor and a slightly crumbly texture. The chimichurri was really spicy and tangy, pairing well with the mild tempeh. The best element of the meal was that after the spicy heat of the sauce died off, there was a super flavorful aftertaste that lingered in my mouth.
Two years later, I was inspired by that meal and the ingredients in my fridge to come up with this dish. A bunch of cilantro and some green garlic were swapped for parsley and green onions to make a “chimichurri inspired” sauce. Red onions cooked down to a sweet mush with a splash of tamari for umami balance out the bright flavors of the chimichurri to make for a divine combo.
I do not have a grill, so I chose to steam then bake my tempeh. Steaming the tempeh first makes sure that it is thouroughly cooked, eliminating the unpleasant bitter taste of raw tempeh. This technique also makes for a really nice texture.
If you have a grill and would prefer to grill your tempeh, marinate the raw tempeh with a couple tablespoons of the chimichurri sauce, then grill on low until golden brown on both sides. It is important to use low heat, as charred tempeh does not taste good!
I think Katie would enjoy this dish just as much as her original… or perhaps even more so, as she is a serious lover of cilantro.
Tempeh Chimichurri Serves 2
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 2 cups Red Onion and/or Shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 cup Water
- 1 tbs Sugar
- 1 tbs Tamari
- 1 8 oz block Tempeh
- 1/4 cup Green Garlic Stalks, 1/4″ chop
- 1 1/2 cups Cilantro, lower stems removed
- 2″ nob of Ginger, peeled, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup Lemon Juice
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Heat a small skillet over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and coat the bottom of the pan. When hot, add the onions. Let cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally until they started to wilt and have reduced slightly in volume. Add the water, sugar and tamari. Return to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let slowly cook down while you prepare the rest of the recipe, stirring occasionally.
- Bring two inches of water to a boil in a pasta pot with a steamer basket insert. Cut the tempeh block in half, then each half in half diagonally to create 4 triangles. Cut each triangle in half thick-wise to to create 8 triangles. Place all of the tempeh in the steamer basket, making sure there is no overlap. Cover and steam for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the chimichurri. Place the green garlic, cilantro, ginger and lemon juice in your food processor. Pulse the mixture until it starts to break down, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Once the desired consistancy has been reached, add the olive oil and blend to emulsify. It will still have some texture to it, and this is OK.
- When the tempeh has finsihed steaming, using tongs carefully transfer the tempeh to a parchment lined baking sheet. Spread one tablespoon of the chimichurri evenly over the tempeh. Flip the tempeh and spread another tablespoon of the chimichurri over the other side. Place the tempeh in the preheated oven and bake for ten minutes, then flip the the tempeh and bake for another ten minutes.
- Plate the dish. Overlap four triangles of tempeh on a plate, then top with half of the reduced onion mixture, followed by half of the chimichurri. Repeat for the second serving.