When I started getting into vegetarian cooking in law school, one of the first cookbooks I purchased was Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day. In it, Heidi has a pomegranate glazed eggplant and tempeh recipe that is to die for! That recipe introduced me and my husband to the wonders of tempeh. Years later, I’m still cooking tempeh!
I usually keep tamarind concentrate in my pantry when I want to add tangy flavors to a dish. I decided to use some tamarind paste to roast tempeh, sweet potatoes, and vegetables. The super tangy flavors of the tamarind glaze work so well with the roasted tempeh. I also roasted some chickpeas on the side so that they provide crunchiness to the dish, just like croutons.
WHAT IS TAMARIND PASTE?
Tamarind is a fruit that looks a lot like a large, bloated peanut. They’re grown on trees, and they’re commonly used in Asian, Middle Eastern and Mexican cooking. Inside the tamarind pod is a fruit that is sticky and sour. One of my favorite treats to eat as a child was candied tamarind (probably because the fruits were rolled in a lot of sugar).
Tamarind paste, sometimes called tamarind concentrate, is made out of the sticky fruit inside the pod. I usually find tamarind paste in a grocery store that has a sizable Asian food section. Tamarind paste is available on Amazon, too. The paste usually come in small jars, and when you open it up, you’ll see a substance that looks a lot like molasses.
Because tamarind paste is very sour, you’ll want to balance it with a bit of sugar when you’re using it for cooking.
COOKING NOTES FOR ROASTED TEMPEH
- Make sure to reserve 2 tablespoons of the glaze: Right after you finish roasting the tempeh and vegetables, you’ll want to toss them with the remaining 2 tablespoons of the tamarind glaze. This makes the tempeh and vegetables much more flavorful.
- Roast chickpeas on a separate sheet pan: It might be tempting to just toss the chickpeas together with the tempeh and vegetables. However, the chickpeas won’t be as crunchy as they would be if roasted separately.
- Not all tempeh is gluten free: I’ve seen some brands that mix barley into their tempeh. If you are on a gluten-free diet, be sure to read the ingredients to make sure that you are picking up a gluten-free variety.
MORE VEGETARIAN MEALS
Roasted Tempeh with Tamarind Glaze, Sweet Potatoes & Roasted Chickpeas
- 4 teaspoons tamarind paste
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Tempeh & Vegetables
- 8 ounces (225g) tempeh, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound/450g), peeled and cubed
- 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- zest of 1/2 lemon (about 1/2 teaspoon)
- 1/4 cup (15g) chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup (38g) feta cheese
- 1 (15-ounce) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC). Position the oven racks to the upper third and lower third positions. Line 2 large sheet pans with parchment paper. Set them aside.
- In a small bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the tamarind glaze. Measure 2 tablespoons of the tamarind glaze and set that aside. You will need it after you finish roasting the tempeh and vegetables.
- Add the tempeh, sweet potatoes and pepper into a large bowl. Toss them with the tamarind glaze that’s remaining in the small bowl. Spread the tempeh and vegetables over a sheet pan.
- Pat the chickpeas with a paper towel to absorb some moisture. In a bowl, toss the chickpeas with a tablespoon of olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Spread the chickpeas over the other sheet pan.
- Place the sheet pan with the tempeh on the upper rack in the oven and the pan with the chickpeas on the lower rack.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Give the tempeh, vegetables and chickpeas a quick stir. Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are tender and the tempeh is golden brown. Turn off the heat. Remove the sheet pan with the tempeh and vegetables from the oven. Leave the chickpeas inside so that the residual heat from the oven continues to roast them.
- Sprinkle the lemon zest on top of the tempeh and vegetables. Pour the reserved tamarind glaze over everything and stir to combine. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and feta.
- Remove the chickpeas from the oven. Serve the tempeh and vegetables with the roasted chickpeas.
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