As you may recall, I got a new cookbook for Christmas: The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook by Kim O’Donnel . My parents bought it for me, chosen largely at random from my inappropriately long Amazon wishlist. And I am in love with this cookbook. In the 2 and a 1/2 weeks that it’s been in my possession, I’ve made 3 excellent recipes from its pages: Black Bean-Sweet Potato Chili, Smokin’ Hoppin’ John and Penne with Tempeh, Caramelized Shallots and Goat Cheese.
Yes, tempeh. Tempeh is a fermented soybean cake, and though that sounds disgusting, it’s really not. In my opinion, tempeh is more meatlike in texture than tofu and has a nuttier flavor. I don’t usually go looking for meat substitutes, but this was pretty close and I can’t wait to cook with it again.
And, the lovely people at Da Capo Lifelong have given me permission to post the recipe that has completely changed my opinion about tempeh. The instructions look long, but they are EASY. I promise.
Penne with Tempeh, Caramelized Shallots and Goat Cheese
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 teaspoon hot sauce of choice (optional)
1 (8-ounce) package soy tempeh, cut into 1-inch strips
Vegetable oil, for pan-frying
2 to 3 shallot bulbs, sliced thinly (about 1/2 cup)
A few sprigs’ worth of fresh thyme leaves, picked from stems (I used dried)
Salt and ground black pepper
12 ounces short pasta, such as penne, rotini or ziti
3 ounces soft goat cheese
3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
A small handful of fresh flat-lead parsley, chopped roughly
Marinate the tempeh: In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, mustard, sesame oil, garlic, lime juice, and hot sauce (if using). Place the tempeh in a shallow dish in a single layer and pour the marinade on top, ensuring complete coverage. Let the tempeh sit in marinade at room temperature for a minimum of 20 minutes, or in the fridge for up to several hours.
Remove the tempeh from the marinade and gently pat with paper towels to minimize splattering when frying in the hot oil.
Pour the oil to a depth of 1/4 inch into a wide skillet and heat over medium heat. The oil is hot enough when it surrounds the tempeh with bubbles. (I used a bit less oil than this; when I thought the oil was getting close to hot enough, I added one piece of tempeh. When it was surrounded by bubbles, I added the rest)
Gently add the tempeh and turn with tongs or a fork, until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes. Add more oil as necessary and allow to heat sufficiently before adding more tempeh. Transfer the tempeh to paper towels to drain and allow to cool slightly. Sprinkle with salt.
Lower the heat and add shallots. (Add more oil if need be, but be careful, you don’t want the shallot mixture to be overly greasy.) Cook over medium-low heat, so they soften, sweeten and reduce but not brown, about 15 minutes. Add the thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile, boil water for the pasta and prepare according to the package instructions.
Crumble the tempeh into small pieces and add to the shallot mixture, stirring to combine.
In the bottom of a serving bowl (or your just emptied pasta pot, as I did), place the goat cheese. Drain the pasta when ready (saving a few ounces of pasta water just in case the end result needs thinning) and pour into the bowl over the goat cheese. With two wooden spoons, coat the pasta with the melting goat cheese. And the tempeh mixture and the parsley, stirring gently until well combined. Garnish with Parmigiano-Reggiano, if you like.
Makes 4 hearty servings; reheats beautifully.
From the book The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook by Kim O’Donnel. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2010.