Nope, it wasn’t Meatless Monday.
In fact, it was Friday night, and my date made me a meatless meal.
John and I decided to take a break from both meat and alcohol for a couple of weeks. (Gasp!) Month-long hiatuses from both things make up items on my Life List, but let’s just start with 14 days and see where we land, shall we?
As much as I love a few slices of bacon wrapped around, well, anything, it’s the wine that I miss. A good glass of wine is such a pleasure, and accents just about every meal. Our home is full of incredible bottles, too. Sigh… Before I start writing break-up song lyrics here, let’s talk about dinner.
Coming up with interesting vegetarian meals is challenging for a carnivore like me. It’s not the same just to remove the meat from my normal recipes. John’s familiar with other protein sources like tempeh and tofu, so until I gather some great veggie recipes, I figured that these were good substitutes to try.
I didn’t even know what tempeh was. I DID know that I like to tease John about it in a kind, pseudo-hippie voice, man. But he came home with some last night. This was an opportunity to learn something new. And hey, I might like it.
From what I gather, tofu is made from soy milk, while tempeh is made with the soybean. Both are super high in protein and the nutritional benefits are huge. John’s made me his scrumptious soba noodle dish many times, often with tofu, and thought tempeh would also work well. I asked him to school me on his methods- another Life List goal (#6)!
As the first thunderstorms of the season gathered outside, I checked out my new soybean friend, tempeh. It was firm and textured- not at all like tofu. You could see the beans as John cut it into slices that would be seasoned and pan-fried.
As the tempeh cooked, the kitchen smelled pleasantly like popcorn. Indeed, a sneak taste revealed a tasty, nutty flavor. I could tell that tempeh is one of those “blank slate” foods that can be dressed up in various flavors or seasonings.
I crunched away as John started in on the tofu.
Tofu has more moisture to it, so it pops and sizzles in the hot oil a lot more. It cooks longer than you think it should. It takes awhile to get a crispy crust (my preference) and still the texture remains slightly chewy. Another blank slate, a lot of the flavor comes from how it’s seasoned.
As usual, John’s veggies for this dish were a rainbow on the counter. Asian oils and sauces, stir-fried veggies, and our soy proteins combined to make a spicy bowl of color.
Isn’t it lovely? And it was scrumptious. I didn’t miss the meat at all.
I did, however, miss the wine. Good thing I love milk.
Got a yummy recipe with tofu or tempeh? How about new vegetarian meals for me? Share away!