June 29, 2011

Recipe - Crispy Tempeh with Lemony Mushroom Gravy and Mashed Potatoes

I will always remember this funny story a former co-worker of mine told me about her daughter: they were walking through the grocery store and my co-worker asked her daughter what she wanted for dinner. She was hoping for an answer like "frozen pizza" or something easy as it had been a long day. Instead, the little girl said, "I want chicken, couscous, and salad!" My co-worker was delighted that she had picked something so healthy, but also a bit deflated that she'd have to spend time in the kitchen.

Such was the story yesterday when I asked Johnny what he wanted for dinner. I hoped he would say "delivery", but instead he requested this meal I'd been talking about making the night before. I dragged myself into the kitchen to start cooking and after a few minutes I was in the swing of things. Watching Johnny dive face first into a plate of vegan food and proclaiming that he LOVED it was so worth the effort! And knowing that we saved some money and ate something way healthier than we would have had we ordered delivery always makes me feel good.

I first tried this recipe by Isa Chandra Moskowitz a few months ago when I got my hands on some fresh fava beans. But I didn't realize at the time all the prep work involved in cooking fresh fava beans, so I omitted them then and ended up with a bit of a mess. I was in love with the taste of the sauce, though, so I wanted to re-work it into another meal. I thought it would be great served on top of something crispy with a layer of mashed potatoes underneath. The nutty flavor of tempeh seemed like a good candidate. The result was similar to some Seitan Piccatas I've had and was really good! The sauce is definitely the star of the show with it's earthy mushroom flavor and hints of lemon and thyme. I served with some steamed garlicky kale - Johnny HATES cooked greens, but I don't think I will ever stop trying to force them on him!

Maybe we'll do delivery tonight...

Forgive the ugly photo, I'm working with a new camera!
Crispy Tempeh with Lemony Mushroom Gravy and Mashed Potatoes
Based on this recipe by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
Serves 3

For the tempeh:

1 8 oz. package plain tempeh
2 tsp olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 clove garlic, diced
1 tsp fresh chopped thyme

For the gravy:

2 tsps olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh chopped thyme
1 10 oz. package mushrooms, rinsed and sliced (cremini work well)
2 tbsp whole wheat breadcrumbs
2 cups vegetable broth
Juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon
Black pepper

For the mashed potatoes:

5-4 Yukon Gold potatoes, rinsed
3 tbsp Earth Balance
1/4 cup plain non-dairy milk
salt and pepper

Prepare the marinade for the tempeh: in a large, shallow bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon, garlic and thyme. Cut your tempeh into four equal rectangles and then carefully cut each rectangle into two slices so it's not as thick. You'll end up with 8 rectangles. Place in the marinade and toss to coat. Leave in the refrigerator while you prepare the gravy, occasionally turning the tempeh pieces.

Place your potatoes in a small saucepan with water to cover. Heat over high heat until boiling, then reduce heat and cover. Allow to boil for about 25-30 minutes, or until tender (test with a fork).

In the meantime, prepare the gravy: heat the olive oil in a medium pan. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes or until tender. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for one more minute. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes or until they've started to release their moisture. Mix in the breadcrumbs and cook for 3-4 minutes more. Stir in the vegetable broth, lemon juice, and black pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The gravy should thicken, but you can add more breadcrumbs if it's not getting as thick as you'd like. Remove from heat and set aside (cover with foil so it stays warm).

Remove your tempeh from the refrigerator and pat each piece dry with a paper towel. Heat 2 tbps olive oil a large pan over medium-high heat.  Add the tempeh pieces and fry on each side for about 5 minutes or until golden brown. Fry in batches if needed so you don't overcrowd your pan, and add additional olive oil as you go. Set aside.

When potatoes have finished cooking, drain the water. In the same saucepan, mash the potatoes well with a potato masher or fork and mash in the Earth Balance. Add in just enough milk to make the potatoes creamy and mix well. Add in salt and pepper to taste and mix again.

Serve the mashed potatoes topped with 2-3 pieces of tempeh and as much gravy as you can handle! 


  1. This looks sooo yummy! It reminds me of a lemon caper tempeh that Chef Chloe Coscarelli did for Supreme Master Television that is my favorite go-to recipe for tempeh. The mushrooms must take it to a whole other level!


  2. Mmmm... I haven't seen that Chef Chloe recipe yet, but I will totally check it out. Love her!

  3. The gravy would not thicken so I added some flour and also after frying the tempeh I cut into smaller pieces and put in gravy. Served over the potatoes and with steamed green beans. Yummy dish!