Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Chipotle Tempeh & Black Bean Burritos

In the wonderful world of meatless cooking, tempeh has the firmest, "meatiest" texture of everything I've tried so far. In Indonesia, It's traditionally been made of soy, but these days you can also find a multi grain version, which also sounds interesting and is perhaps a food for another post on another day. But if you're not familiar with it, like I wasn't, soy or grain, it will look pretty weird (brick-like) to you. Tofu and tempeh are both made from soy, but tempeh is far higher in protein (a beefy 22 g per serving!) as well as fiber and other good stuff. I think it would also be delicious when grilled or in a stir fry, so I'm excited to have discovered another do-anything-you-want-with-it ingredient. With more deceptive seasonings, I think you could serve these and nobody would know that there wasn't any meat involved.
 I crumbled my tempeh and marinated it in some spicy chipotle dressing that I had on hand. You could use something similar, like a store-bought dressing or just some oil, vinegar and spices, but I certainly recommend whipping up a batch of your own. If you're anything like me, once you do, you'll be putting it on everything under the sun. With all the toppings, this recipe makes about 4-6 servings:

1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 12 oz. package tempeh, crumbled (I used the brand Lightlife)
1 1/5 cups fully cooked black beans or 1 15 oz. can, rinsed and drained
1 13 1/2 oz. can tomatoes with green chilies or 2-3 plum tomatoes, diced and seeded, tossed with salt and pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder if you want (clearly this is the slapdash version that yours truly used)
If using fresh tomatoes instead of canned: 1/2 cup vegetable stock or broth
about 1/4 cup chipotle dressing
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
3 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped
multi-grain tortillas
Salt and pepper 
Olive oil
Your favorite toppings: Salsa, sour cream, guacamole, shredded lettuce, etc
(I used guacamole, taco cheese, and the tomato salsa mixture above)

1. Toss your crumbled tempeh into a ziplock baggie with the chipotle dressing, or your oil-vinegar-spices marinade. Shake it up and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or as long as all day. (It soaks it all up, it's amazing).
2. In a saucepan, prepare your brown rice according to the package directions.
3. In a large frying pan, heat about 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat, and cook the onion for about 5 minutes, or until transparent. Add garlic and cook for about 1 more minute, then add spices and salt.
4. Add tempeh and cook for about another 5 minutes, until it's lightly browned. Add black beans and canned tomatoes, if using, and let cook together for about 15 minutes. If you are using a fresh tomato mixture like I did, use it like a fresh salsa topping rather than cooking it with the beans, and instead add the vegetable broth at this time.
5. Spoon some brown rice into a tortilla, add the tempeh mixture and your toppings, and enjoy!
Assembly Phase 1
Phase 2: Fully assembled & super messy in the most delicious way
 These were definitely, definitely delicious, and I think that the chipotle marinade made a big impact on the final outcome. I didn't have any fresh cilantro on hand, but the cilantro in that dressing still came through. I was afraid they might be missing something without the canned tomato, but to my taste, I think this is even more tasty (and definitely more fresh-tasting) than the canned-version would have been. And don't get me wrong, I love tofu, but tempeh is much more "absorbent" when it comes to soaking up flavors. Combined with its substantial texture... What more could you want?

[And if you can find a decent quote about tempeh, I shall eat my hat.]

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