Thursday, April 19, 2012

Seared Tempeh with Blackberry Shallot Reduction...

Something amazing happened in my kitchen last night, and I’ve been dying to tell you about it!  
But first, it all started with a trip to the grocery store. While I was doing my weekly shopping I saw that blackberries were on sale. Being a big lover of the blackberry and not having had them all winter I decided to pick up a couple of cartons. However once I got them home I realized I didn’t quite know what to do with them. I could have eaten them by themselves of course but as much as I love blackberries I have to admit their seeds are more then just mildly annoying. Especially for me, with my mouthful of fillings. I thought about putting them in a smoothie but considering the price of fresh blackberries - on sale or not - it seemed like a waste when I could have easily made a blackberry smoothie with frozen berries for cheaper. Unable to think much beyond that I decided to enlist the help of my numerous cook books, surely somewhere in those pages I could find a recipe.

Unfortunately virtually every recipe I came across that utilized blackberries had them in dessert. I definitely wasn’t interested in making a dessert. The few recipes I found that didn’t make a pie, crumble, cake, or bar out of them used them in sweet breakfast dishes like pancakes, or oatmeal - another thing I didn’t want to do. - While a few more had them tossed into salads or made into salad dressings. I briefly thought about making the blackberries into a salad dressing and then decided against it, that’s not at all what I wanted.

What I wanted was a savory blackberry dish. A dish that could be simple and light, or hearty depending on my mood. Something that would scream spring and yet feel comforting, so I thought long and hard about it. I thought about everything I know about cooking, and food pairing, and somewhere along the line I was reminded of some recipes I’d come across in my pre-vegetarian days. Recipes I’d never got around to making myself, but had piqued my interest for their oddness. There seems to be no shortage of roasted meat recipes dredged in blackberry sauce amongst omnivore gourmands, and minus the meat - of course - that seemed like exactly what I was after.

Now all I needed was to figure out what to use as the vehicle for the sauce I planned on making. As luck would have it my fridge is currently stocked both with tofu and tempeh as I bought several packages of each when they were on sale. After weighing the merits of both, I decided to use tempeh because of it’s firmness and robust flavor. Once I had my vehicle picked out all I needed was to figure out what sort of sauce I wanted to make, and how to go about it. This turned out to be a lot easier then I initially expected, and the result was out of this world.

Seriously, this is probably the most delicious, amazing, mind-blowing meal I’ve eaten in a while. Everything about it delights the senses, and the flavors mingle so well that they truly dance across the tongue. Who would have thought that tempeh and blackberry would pair so beautifully! I know this is a meal I will be making over, and over and over again, and I hope you do as well.

Seared Tempeh with Blackberry Shallot Reduction

1 8 oz pack of garden vegetable Tempeh cut into strips***

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
6 Cloves Garlic Minced
1-2 tsp Fresh Grated Ginger
2 Shallots finely diced
1 C Red Wine
1/4 C Balsamic Vinegar
2 ½ Tbsp Granulated Sugar
6-8oz Fresh Blackberries halved or quartered if large
1/4 tsp Dried Crushed Rosemary
½ tsp Ground Thyme
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper and Sea Salt to taste

- Fill a medium sized pot with enough water to cover the bottom. Place a steamer basket inside and add the tempeh. Cover and steam for 10 minutes until Tempeh is tender.

- Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Once tempeh has done steaming add it to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes then flip and cook for another 5 minutes or until both sides of each piece of tempeh is a nice dark golden brown. Remove seared tempeh to a plate lined with paper towel to remove excess oil.

- In small to medium sized saucepan saute garlic, ginger, and shallot in remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil. About 10 minutes until fragrant and shallot becomes translucent.

- Add red wine, balsamic vinegar, and blackberries. Cover and bring to a boil. Let boil 5 minutes then uncover and let boil another 10 minutes.

- By this time blackberries should be beginning to break down. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for another 15-25 minutes or until liquid has thickened and reduced by roughly a third.

- Arrange your seared tempeh over a bed of Micro Greens (or Wild Field Greens) then top with the blackberry sauce.

I think this tasted amazing over Micro Greens and the extra sauce doesn’t get wasted because it serves as a salad dressing. Perfect for a light spring or summer meal. However if it’s heartier fare your after I think this would go quite well with a scoop of mashed potatoes or perhaps some roasted potatoes. Although I haven’t tried it out yet myself, I’m quite eager to! However way you serve it, I hope you enjoy!

*** Note - You can use regular tempeh or any other flavor tempeh you like if you don’t have or can’t find the garden vegetable variety. If you can find it though I highly recommend it because it gives the tempeh a really nice additional flavor. My husband and I think the garden vegetable variety when seared or fried has a flavor mildly reminiscent of fried chicken, without all the grease or the animal-cruelty. It really did pair beautifully with the sauce.***

1 comment:

  1. You should totally make this again! I LOVED this dish! It was such a brilliant idea. The pictures look so good, too. Thanks for the fantastic meal!