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What Is Tempeh?
We’ve had some tempeh recipes here in the past, like the Teriyaki Tempeh Tacos and Tempeh Calzones (both damn amazing), but I don’t think I’ve ever really talked about what tempeh is. I suppose it’s the perfect time with this new Buffalo Tempeh Pitas recipe! When going vegan over 2 years ago, tempeh was a mystery ingredient, and frankly, I was scared of it. Hearing bits and pieces about what it was left it leaving a funky cloud in my brain. Finally, I took the plunge to learn about and de-mystify it, and now I can’t get enough of it!
It’s generally soybean based, though it can have other fermentable grains in it. This one is strictly soybean, but other brands have tempeh that is comprised of different blend of legume. I’ve seen a combination of brown rice / barley / millet, and soybean / brown rice / millet. You can also make your own tempeh using any type of bean, grain, and seeds such as black beans, garbanzo beans, black eyed peas, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and flax seeds, including the ones mentioned above. The Kitchn has a great recipe for how to make tempeh.
Tempeh Cooking Technique
When cooking tempeh, I typically do it in the oven because it’s difficult to get a good pan-fry with the tempeh’s bumpy surface. I like to take advantage of the surface area, by breaking up the tempeh by hand into bite-sized chunks, so the chunks are rough and irregular. This will hold more sauce, which is the more favorable outcome, as tempeh is generally a blank canvas for flavor. (It’s pretty bland on it’s own). Then, I coat with oil, so all surfaces have a layer of fat, helping to nicely brown all the peaks and valleys of the bites. Sauce gets poured on, and tossed around until all pieces are thoroughly coated and delicious! Saucing the bites just out of the oven helps infuse flavor even more.
Buffalo Sauce & Blue Cheese
I mean, that’s a flavor combo made in heaven, right? In the past, I loved my buffalo wings, along with the chunky blue cheese dressing, and celery sticks to aid in the cooling of the spicy sauce. So nearly any recipe I create, that combination is hard to pass up. Actually I think it’s more of a fun challenge to find new and exciting ways of finding vehicles for this particular flavor combo! This one is winning pretty hard, especially with my vegan blue cheese dressing recipe!
While tempeh does have a good dose of carbs, it also has quite a bit of fiber which gives it points. It’s main attraction is it’s protein content, and it’s whole-food appeal. But can we just take a minute to stop demonizing carbs? Carbs are good for you, give you energy, and allow your brain and other organs to function at their peak. Though, as with everything, you do want to consume them in moderation, as excess carbs can result in heart disease and weight gain. Ried Health has a great article citing USDA, explaining those carbs and why we need them: Carbohydrates 101: The Benefits of Carbohydrates.
In this Buffalo Tempeh Pitas recipe, we keep the carbs to a minimum with the small pita rounds that are around 130 calories, and 25 carbs which isn’t so bad, the tempeh also has some complex carbs since they’re in whole soybean form, and contain fiber, so there’s 12 carbs total, with 6 grams of fiber per serving, netting 6 grams of net carbs. We can’t forget the star – the protein content at 18 grams per serving too, which is amazing for a plant-based protein.
Buffalo Tempeh Pitas
The Buffalo Tempeh Pitas themselves, are a perfect size, leaving you satisfied, but not over-full. The fiery, salty buffalo sauce slathered over the tempeh has a great bite and heftiness that you look for when buffalo sauce is involved. The blue cheese, lettuce, and celery cools the heat left behind, while also lending it’s creaminess to the mouthfeel. The celery provides a much needed crunch to the ensemble making this a perfect lunchtime treat.
Buffalo Tempeh Pitas
- 3 Servings Tempeh Usually 1⅓ – 1½ packages
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil Extra Virgin
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 Cup Buffalo Sauce
- 1 Cup Lettuce shredded if desired
- 3 Ribs Celery sliced thinly, on a bias
- 1 Cup Blue Cheese Dressing Vegan