My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tempeh Salad

Yikes, it's been a really squirrely week in every way, and this post's a few days later than I'd intended. After two days with a migraine and two long days of appointments and errands in town (one of the migraine days was also one of the town days, which was really jolly), I'm behind on everything, and Vegan MoFo waits for no one! I've been unable to keep up with all the participating blogs I follow and hope to catch up over the weekend. (Thank goodness I didn't sign up, but am just posting a few recipes from the sidelines!) So speaking of recipes, it's time for me to share another one (if Blogger doesn't eat it first, since Blogger is being really squirrely too, at least with this post!)...

BW, who always takes his lunch to work, used to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every single day. He never seemed to get tired of eating them, but I sure got tired of fixing them! So I started to make three different vegan "sandwich salads," which we alternate. Now when I ask him what kind of sandwich he wants during the week, the answer is never "peanut butter and jelly" anymore! :-)

I hope to share all three recipes during the remainder of Vegan MoFo, along with some information that helps explain why we no longer eat their non-vegan versions.

I'll start with BW's favorite of the three, Tempeh Salad. Loosely based on a "Mock Chicken Salad" recipe in Tofu Quick and Easy by Louise Hagler, we stopped calling it "mock" anything a long time ago, preferring to call it what it is. :-) Tempeh, a fermented soybean cake, is a traditional staple in southeast Asia, particularly in Indonesia. Its firm texture, mild nutty taste, ability to absorb flavors, easy digestibility, and high fiber, protein, and vitamin/mineral content make it a nutritious, versatile, and easy to prepare alternative to animal flesh. You can find tempeh in different varieties in health or natural food stores or Asian markets. I strongly recommend getting organic tempeh.

See those pretty broccoli sprouts? Grew 'em meself! :-)

Tempeh Salad


• 1 pkg organic tempeh, cut into small (1/4" inch) cubes
• 3 stalks organic celery, diced
• 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
• 1/4 cup organic green onion (about 2 onions), minced
• Several dill pickle slices, chopped
• 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1 tsp dill pickle juice
• 1/2 tsp sea salt
• 1/2 tsp celery salt
• SCANT 1/2 tsp celery seed (too much makes it bitter)
• Fresh parsley (optional)


Toast the slivered almonds by baking them on a non-stick cookie sheet at 400ºF for a few minutes, until medium brown. Allow to cool.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.

Blend together with:

Vegan Sour Cream (recipe below)

Chill and serve. The tempeh will absorb some of the sour cream, so you may wish to add more the next day. It's much tastier if you allow the flavors to blend for a few hours or overnight before serving.

Tofu Sour Cream

• 1 14-ounce package organic firm tofu (we use Nasoya)
• 1 1/2 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice 
• 1 1/2 TBSP organic apple cider vinegar 
• 1/2 - 1 tsp organic evaporated cane juice (to taste)
• 1/2 - 1 tsp sea salt (to taste)

Blend all ingredients in a food processor till smooth and creamy. Store in a tightly closed container in the refrigerator. Use as you would sour cream.

This salad is great in pita pockets or on toasted whole grain bread, with lettuce or spinach, tomato and/or avocado slices, sprouts, and dill pickles or relish.

Here are a few other tempeh "mock chicken" style salad recipes, in case you'd like to try a different one or use some of their ingredient ideas in mine...

You'll notice that most of these recipes call for steaming the tempeh first. This softens it and makes it absorb more of the dressing/marinade/sauce/whatever. I used to do that with this recipe, but found it didn't improve the tempeh's texture and made it absorb too much of the sour cream. So I skip that step.


Please click on any of these images to learn about the lives and deaths of chickens (and turkeys) who are bred and raised for slaughter, and for some more resources for compassionate alternatives...


  1. I - WANT - THAT - TEMPEH - SANDWICH! The photos are really enticing and it sounds sooo good. And, your broccoli sprouts look really yummy indeed!

    I'm going to dedicate December to making recipes from blogs that I've seen lately and really want to try...this is one, and of course your bennys and your chowder! I'm looking forward to the remaining two salads.

    This is a breath of fresh air amidst the depressing menu discussions and callous comments that are everywhere this time of year. I know people eat meat all year long, but this time of year, it's especially prevalent in conversations and even on the radio. It's depressing.

    I have watched a couple of the videos you posted, and will be watching/listening to them all over the next day or so...I'll be back to this post for sure.

    But in the meantime, thanks for the recipe (and the other recipe links)...and for those mouthwatering pics!

  2. On second thought...I hope my comment didn't sound ranty. I don't wish to offend just really does get a little depressing this time of year, especially keeping in mind the suffering and atrocities that these poor creatures suffer at our's nice to hear a little bit from the other side of the story.

  3. I bet that is one delicious sandwich. I don't eat soy but can do some quick substituting to make a close proximity sandwich. Thanks -- barbara

  4. Rose- I couldn't agree with you more. It is a depressing, challenging time of the year for vegans.

    Laurie- I'm very excited about the sandwich fillings yet to come after seeing this! Mike and I could use some new lunch ideas, so this will be perfect. Thanks so much for sharing!

    I was starting to wonder if something was going on & am so sorry to hear about the migraine. Ouch. :( I haven't had any problems with blogger, so hopefully the problems you were having won't crop up anymore. How frustrating for you!

  5. Rose ~ If you were here (or I there), I'd happily make you this tempeh salad sandwich of your very own so you could have it to nibble on while you blog your poor little Vegan MoFo fingers to the bone! :-)

    Your December cooking and baking plans sound ambitious, delicious and fun! I'm honored you've selected three of my recipes to try that month! I hope to get a few more posted, but I'm quickly running out of November. Oh well, still a lot of winter left, they'll keep!

    I know what you mean about this being a very tough time of year (and good heavens, you didn't sound the least bit ranty! And I know ranty! lol). If I still worked in an office, I know it would be miserable. I've managed to avoid most of it, except at the grocery store. It helps keep me sane, but I realize that avoiding it doesn't stop the suffering and carnage that are still being inflicted, and that's heartbreaking.

    In happier news, though, I had a nice conversation Monday with the pharmacist when I picked up Josie's antibiotics (yeah, unfortunately that saga continues!), prompted by her suggestion that I give the pills in bits of cheese or hotdog. When I told her we never have such things in our house and told her our alternative methods, she asked several questions about how we and our dogs eat. She seemed awestruck (in a friendly, receptive way) by my answers and the whole concept, and concluded our conversation by telling me that her dogs really love vegetables, she especially loves pumpkin, and even apologized for bringing up the -- as you call them - "unmentionables!" :-)

    BW and I also planted a seed (one hopes) with a clerk who wished us a "Happy Turkey Day." Given that it's anything BUT, I really detest that particular greeting.

    I know it's painful and tough, especially this time of year, and that the cruelty and suffering far outweigh the compassion and empathy for now. But I do find great comfort and joy in the abundant and ever-growing number of vegan blogs, cookbooks and recipe sites, and they've really been pulling out the stops this Thanksgiving! I've already got Thanksgiving meals planned through at least 2018, just from this year's cornucopia of recipes on the web. :-) And we're excited to be joining vegan friends for Thanksgiving this year and then having our own feast on Friday (since I'd already bought everything!) And knowing kind-hearted and inspiring people like you makes me both hopeful and thankful. :-)

    Thank you for checking out those links, Rose - I'm looking forward to your return visit(s) and comments as always, and to my own way-overdue visit to your blog! I've got some serious catching up to do, and it will be great fun!

  6. Barbara ~ It really is a yummy sandwich! And now you've got me curious about what you might use instead of tempeh in this! Could it be.... seitan? LOL (I don't know if you remember Dana Carvey's "Church Lady" character from Saturday Night Live, but there's a vegan blog with that title and it just cracks me up!) When I make chickenless noodle soup I use cooked mushrooms, which work great, but I'm not sure how that would work in this recipe, and you'd need a lot of mushrooms! Not that I think eating a lot of mushrooms is a bad thing! :-) In fact, I was terribly excited to find a link to this site on Susan's FatFree Vegan blog recently. Do you cultivate your own mushrooms? I'd love to do that!

    Molly ~ I wish a bunch of us could get together for a vegan Thanksgiving extravaganza, wouldn't that be fun? :-) Have you guys ever gotten to go to any of the ThanksLiving vegan dinners/celebrations in honor of turkeys at any of the animal sanctuaries? I wish we could go to Peaceful Prairie's sometime. They sold out again this year - they always do! :-)

    That's great that my sandwich fixin' recipes are coming along just when you were looking for new lunch ideas! The other tempeh salad recipes I posted all look good too, and each is flavored quite differently, with curry or golden raisins or sweet pickles... it's a nice variety of just tempeh salads. I'll try to get my other two recipes posted soon too.

    Thanks for your empathy about my migraines, I know you understand too well how that sort of thing can be incapacitating! I struggled through Monday (I had to), but surrendered to it on Tuesday. Even one of May's magic massages on Monday afternoon didn't help! I've hardly had any headaches in months, and none this bad since going to her, till this one! Her massages and my stretches have helped enormously, but even they were no match for that awful front that blew through. How a weather front can affect nerves and muscles like that is one of life's great mysteries to me!

    The Blogger deal was so strange! It seemed to have affected only this post, and though it all looked so weird in draft form, it pretty much turned out okay once I published it, except for some spacing issues I had to fix. I'm glad you're not experiencing anything gremlinish with your blog! :-)

  7. I make a tempeh salad sandwich too, and I really like it. I'll have to give yours a whirl.

  8. Jennifer ~ I searched your blog for your tempeh salad recipe, but couldn't find it. That would make a good Meatless Monday post sometime!


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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