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Lose your fear of tempeh with Tempeh Gumbo!

Updated: Jan 10, 2022

Believe it or not, but before a couple years ago, I didn't have a clear idea of what tempeh was. Sorta kinda like tofu? Maybe? Having gone WFPBNO (Whole-food, Plant-based, No added Oil), like so many people, instead of picking up a package of tofu, I was lingering ... taking a closer look at the other items like tempeh..

Even after buying my first package, it sat in the fridge for about a month before I could bring myself to actually open it and try it. What was I supposed to do with it? Fortunately, after that first bit of hesitancy, a new world opened up.

Tempeh is just a whole-food version of tofu. Where tofu is made from soy milk, tempeh is the fermented whole soy bean, and truth be told, a healthier alternative to tofu since it comes with all the whole-bean fiber. Even better, tempeh isn't the flavorless 'blank canvas' that tofu tends to be, having a more 'nutty' flavor. That said, most people, including me, prefer to steam tempeh before adding it to dishes or otherwise cooking it. I find that the flavor mellows out, and it picks up other flavors more readily.

My bamboo multi-tiered steamer basket is perfect for steaming chunks of tempeh ... along with other vegetables.

This bamboo steamer basket set comes with a stainless steel platform that will fit over the top of almost any pan or pot, which makes it super convenient. The set also included the mesh, silicone liners that make clean-up fast and easy.

When I need to steam other vegetables, like asparagus, I'll add the asparagus to the other basket, and add it above the bottom basket, toward the end of the tempeh (or root vegetables) cooking time. Everything comes out perfectly cooked, at the same time, with very little clean-up.

But, let's get back to making gumbo

As I suggested, cut the tempeh into bite-sized pieces and gently steam them for about 10 minutes over medium low heat. This will take some of the 'bitterness' out, which some people find unpleasant.

Prep all of your ingredients - including your Holy Trinity, as it's called in Louisiana! That's the onions, peppers and celery. These ingredients are the basis of many classic Cajun and Creole dishes, including Étouffée and Jambalaya. They're not optional.

I always keep a bag of sliced okra in the freezer since getting the fresh pods can be difficult at certain times of the year - and even when fresh is available during the winter months, it's expensive.

Next, measure out all of your seasonings! See that one front and center - with the Bay Leaves? That's so killer diller. That's the Summer Garden Salt-Free Herb Blend from The Spice House and this is the perfect dish for it. If you haven't tried it, you should.

Open up the tomatoes and have that ready to add into the pot.

Wet sauté the steamed tempeh. By wet sauté, I mean add a splash or two of water/stock to keep food from sticking. This way you can easily sauté without even a drop of unhealthy added oil. There is no such thing as a 'healthy' oil. All oils are stripped of their fiber and nutrients, highly refined, and add nothing other than calories. They also 'blunt' flavors.

Remove the tempeh from the heat and set aside.

Wet sauté the onions and garlic for a few minutes over medium-heat until the onions are nearly translucent.

Next, you can add the herbs and spices, peppers and celery. Wet sauté that, with the onions and garlic, for a few more minutes, adding a splash of stock if needed.

Add the Okra, stir to combine and cook a couple more minutes. Pour in all the stock - except for the reserved 1/2 cup that you're using for the Roux Slurry.

Shake up the prepared Roux slurry - 4 tablespoons of Wondra Quick-Mixing flour in about 1/2 cup of stock. Pour that into the pot, bring to a boil, and cook - stirring constantly - for a couple minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer.

Add the tomatoes and tempeh. Taste. Adjust flavors. Add as much - or as little - Tabasco Sauce as you like.

Serve over cooked brown rice or Farro, or as a soup with some great bread to sop up the flavors!

Hey, if you like or make this dish, would you mind posting the recipe to Yummly? I'd really appreciate that. The Yummly icon is on the right side of this webpage. Oh, and saving to Pinterest would also be great! Each photo should have a Pinterest icon in the upper left corner! Thanks!

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