June 4, 2013

Nori Wraps with Tempeh

I've been feeling a bit uninspired recently about food. Lately there's not much in my kitchen that is screaming "make me." But while my pantry is plenty stocked with grains, flours, pastas, lentils, legumes, etc., my refrigerator has been pretty devoid of fresh vegetables or fruits. I'm pretty picky about grocery store produce (in season and mostly organic is what I prefer), so I've relied more on canned (tomatoes) or frozen, which is very boring.

Our local farmer's market opened up this weekend, and I found a reason to cook again. Only a few vendors had vegetables as our growing season starts later here in Vermont, but I found plenty to keep me happy for a few days. My CSA starts in a few weeks, and seeing how much I am looking forward to it helps me realize how I have actually changed my diet and tastes in a fundamental way. Slowly, I really have come to love vegetables instead of forcing myself to eat them because I know I should. I so hope my daughter can grow up in a place where vegetables are the center of our diet. I used to start my meal planning focused on meat, but now I really do start with the vegetables. I have more confidence and skills now that I can go shopping for vegetables, and then plan a way to use it, instead of the opposite order. So when I bought the following items at the market this weekend, I knew I'd have no problem using it up, even though I didn't specifically have a plan.

Green lettuce, spinach, turnips, green onions, and radishes:

I came home from the market and made some nori wraps using the radishes and green onions, and some carrots, cucumber, barley, and tempeh I already had. I've been making these often lately, and always crave them. They are very versatile - choose any grain, vegetables, and herbs. I've had several delicious combinations and never been disappointed.

Tempeh is my choice of protein for these wraps. Tempeh is a fermented soy product like tofu, but I prefer it to tofu (and I don't mind tofu). Firmer in texture than tofu, tempeh has a chew to it. It's sold right next to tofu in my grocery store, is very affordable, and keeps a long time.

Nori Wraps with Tempeh

Serves one

1/2 package of tempeh
soy sauce, tamari, soy-free aminos, etc.
olive oil
2 nori sheets (usually sold for wrapping sushi)
1/2 c. cooked grain (any kind of rice, barley, quinoa)
julienned vegetables (carrot, red bell pepper, cucumber, green onion, radish)
fresh herbs (cilantro, chives)

Slice the tempeh into 1/4 inch-thick slices. Lay the slices flat in a shallow dish. Drizzle soy sauce and a little olive oil on top. Toss to coat.

Heat a skillet (cast iron recommended) over medium heat. Add the tempeh in a single layer. Cook for a few minutes, and when golden brown, flip over. Cook the other side until golden brown. Remove tempeh to a cutting board and when cool, slice in half to create a skinny slice. (the more rod-like the tempeh and vegetables, the tighter the wrap can be)

Lay out a piece of nori on a flat surface. On one end, add half the grain, tempeh, vegetables, and fresh herbs. If desired, drizzle with a little soy sauce. Roll, starting with the filled end, wrapping as tightly as you can. When rolled, seal the nori to itself with some drops of water. (Alternately, you can try the hand roll style - see this website for instructions).  Serve with some fruit for an amazing, refreshing meal.

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