This Saturday will mark 11 years since I went on my first date with the cute triathlete guy who swam in the fast lane. It’s an anniversary that will go by without much fuss since we celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary last month, but still one that deserves a little attention. After all, 11 is a lot of years.
Last year when we rounded the corner of our first decade together, I waxed poetic about all of the ways in which Paul had enriched my life, yet I forgot one of the most critically important things.
Lunch! That man turned me into a plan ahead make ahead compulsive lunch packing pro!
Although we do lunch pretty differently – he makes a week’s worth of sandwiches in one go (the same sandwich he’s been eating every day for at least 15 years, no less) where as I tend to mix it up and try new things each week. This space kind of forces me to, because who do you think eats all the stuff I make here? Oh, and we need not get into the failed recipes that get stuffed into my lunch boxes.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that people love a meal bowl. Another thing I’ve learned is that meal bowls make tremendous packed lunches. This one is definitely no exception.
We start with tempeh, and spruce it up with that sultry spicy elixer, Sriracha. The recipe is basic, using just four ingredients including the tempeh. A little whisk, toss, soak, and bake, and not long later you’ve got salty and spicy cubes of baked tempeh that are pretty much perfect. We could stop there and just pop hot cubes of tempeh into our mouths right off the baking sheet, but why would we?
Instead, let’s make a Sriracha tempeh party in a bowl. I’ve used short grain brown rice, lightly steamed broccoli, shredded carrots, and halved cherry tomatoes. Of course this, like any meal bowl, is a choose your own adventure situation, so build it how you will. Just remember the basic formula is grain + green + protein, and you’re golden. Hey, just so you know, I started with brown rice I’d cooked too much of a few weeks ago and stashed away in the freezer. Most grains freeze and thaw really nicely, so I always cook too much then I’ve got an instant bowl base on a busy day. Pro tip!
If you’d rather pack it in your lunch box, know that this recipe fed me for four days last week (and also the week before; I was recipe testing). The sturdy grain goes in the bottom, whatever accoutrements you like, the tempeh, and I’ve got a little container of soy sauce tucked along side for when I’m ready to eat.
Tempeh is fermented soy food originally from Indonesia. It is fermented with the mold Rhizopus oligosporus in a process similar to cheese making. The fermentation process makes digestion easier and nutrients like zinc, calcium, and iron are more bio available than in non-fermented soy products like tofu. Tempeh is a great source of plant-based protein. Also, because the soy beans in tempeh are still in their whole form, all of the dietary fiber is still intact. Think of tofu as the white bread of the soy world and tempeh as it’s healthier whole grain cousin. Tempeh is usually purchased in a cake-like form and can be sliced or crumbled, and is often steamed, seared, or stir-fried. Look for tempeh that is covered with a thin whitish bloom. Sometimes it has a few black or grayish spots, which is totally fine, but it should have no evidence of pink, yellow, or blue coloration – a sign that it has become overly fermented.
- 1 250g pkg tempeh, cubed
- ¼ cup light soy sauce (I use Braggs liquid aminos)
- 2 Tbsp Sriracha
- 1 tsp cold pressed sesame oil
- 4 cups cooked brown rice
- 1 head broccoli, divided into florets and lightly steamed
- 2 large carrots, shredded
- 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
- Preheat oven to 400°F / 200°C
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, Sriracha, and sesame oil.
- Place the cubed tempeh in a large bowl, and pour the Sriracha sauce over top. Stir to combine well, and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Pour the marinated tempeh onto the prepare baking sheet. Place in the oven, and bake for 10 minutes.
- Carefully turn the cubes over, and bake for another 5-10 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove tempeh from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
- To assemble bowls, divide the brown rice, tempeh, broccoli, shredded carrot, and tomatoes amongst four bowls or four lunch containers.
- Serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator for up to four day.