Whenever I'm traveling near the little beach town of Morro Bay, California, I make it a point to stop at Shine Cafe to order their "famous tempeh." You can get a scoop of this perfectly seasoned tempeh and quinoa in a salad, in taco form, or as part of a one-bowl meal — any way you get this dish, it's tasty, healthy, and filling. Recently I found myself daydreaming about this amazing tempeh, and while I couldn't transport myself to a quaint fishing village, I was inspired to make my own version. It's so versatile and easy to make ahead that I think it'll become part of my regular lunch rotation.
Unlike most tempeh salads, this one is ground rather than chunky. Mixed with quinoa, it forms a scoopable salad that can be served alongside greens (like tuna salad), as a taco filling, or as a spread for sandwiches and crackers. The combination of protein-rich tempeh and quinoa is filling without being heavy, and I've found that it really fuels my afternoon. And yes, the dish happens to be both vegan and gluten-free.
It has been awhile since I've had the tempeh at Shine so I'm not sure exactly how my version compares, but my choice of seasonings is based on smoky, aromatic chorizo spices. A touch of vegan mayonnaise, tomato paste, and olive oil brings it all together. I'm loving flax seed mayo these days, but you could also use one of these vegan mayonnaise recipes or a store-bought one.
Seasoned Tempeh-Quinoa Salad
8 ounces tempeh
1 cup cooked and cooled quinoa
2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
1/4 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Small dash of ground cloves
Small dash of ground cinnamon
Cut the tempeh into 1-inch chunks (no need to be precise). Fill a saucepan with an inch or two of water and place a steamer basket inside. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Place the tempeh in the basket, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Steam for 15 minutes, remove tempeh, and let cool.
Place the tempeh in a food processor and pulse until crumbly. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until the mixture comes together. Taste and adjust seasonings, if desired. (Alternatively, you can crumble the tempeh and mix in the other ingredients by hand.)
Serve with a green salad, as a taco filling, or as a spread for sandwiches or crackers.
Salad may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
(Images: Emily Han)