Tempeh Chorizo Tacos + a Green Crema

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We have a taco restaurant in town that has the most amazing tempeh chorizo tacos. We don’t go often but when we do, I always always get them. When it comes to tacos, we make them frequently at home and I tend to be quite non-traditional in my approach. But after a few experiences with Tacovore’s tempeh chorizo, I knew I had to start experimenting with a version for home.

Admittedly, it took a few tries because I wanted to reach that complexity of flavor that those restaurant tacos have. My version is slightly different, but also so good. I’ve been sitting on this recipe for well over a year now, so lots of tacos have happened since then. That means this recipe is well tested for you all. :)

 

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Tempeh, if you’ve never had it, is traditionally made from fermenting soy beans. It comes in a big block and unlike tofu, you can see the individual beans pressed together. Consuming soy is often a contentious issue in the health community, with some people avoiding it entirely, and others eating it in everything (namely, the ‘processed-food’ vegan crowd and those that buy lots of mainstream packaged foods). Soy gets its polarity because many people have been told to avoid it for breast cancer prevention and some other estrogen disorders. While I’m not suggesting anyone defy their oncologist’s advice, traditionally prepared whole soy in foods such as tofu and especially tempeh actually has a lot of data that suggests positive health outcomes related to breast and other hormonal-linked cancers, and even more so if it’s been consumed in traditional foods since an early age. This is because soy and other legumes contain what are called phytoestrogens or plant-estrogens and they selectively bind to estrogen receptors in the body, thus potentially blocking the action of endogenous estrogen in adverse health circumstances.

The reason I particularly like tempeh, beyond its taste, is that compared to other plant-based protein sources, it is richer in protein and its fermentation process means it helps with digestive system health. For athletes that tend to avoid meat, adding tempeh to meal rotations is an excellent way to help with muscle repair, endocrine and immune health, and to keep the body functionally optimally, since protein is used throughout the body in enzymes to make metabolic reactions occur.

If one is avoiding soy for any reason, there are now non-soy tempehs available using other legumes and sometimes grains. I’ve just discovered a company locally that sells these products and I’m also aware of a great one based out of Portland, Oregon which has expanded its distribution to at least the Seattle/western Washington area. If you’re curious about tempeh but avoid soy, I encourage you to keep your eyes open to new non-soy versions in your area.

Lastly, when consuming soy in whole-food products such as tempeh, tofu, or edamame, look for non-GMO, organically grown products since there are many negative health outcomes linked to GMO soy.

 

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For this recipe, I made the tempeh chorizo, dry-roasted a little broccoli (my favorite way to delicious broccoli), and then topped them both with cabbage, cilantro, and a green cashew crema. All together–delicious! Beyond the tacos, the chorizo is also great in a big taco salad with whatever fixings you prefer, and minus the chili powder and red pepper flakes in the seasoning, it will also make a great weekend savory breakfast protein.

 

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Tempeh Chorizo, makes enough for approximately 12 small tacos
12 oz. tempeh
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ tsp. chili powder
1 ½ tsp. smoked paprika
1 ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
¾ tsp. fennel seeds
½ tsp. salt
¾ tsp. ground coriander
¾ tsp. ground cumin
dash or two of ground cloves
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbs. white miso
1 Tbs. reduced sodium tamari
¼-1/2 cup water

  1. Steam tempeh for 5-10 minutes, cool slightly, and then chop into really fine pieces.
  2. Meanwhile, saute the onions and garlic in a small amount of coconut oil. Then add spices and cook an additional minute.
  3. Add tempeh and cook until beginning to brown.
  4. In a small cup, mash the miso in the tamari and then add ¼ cup water. Cook until nice and sizzling and the right consistency, adding more water if necessary.

 

Green Cashew Crema, makes about 1 cup
1/2 cup cashews, soaked for 4-8 hours or overnight
¼ tsp. salt
1 Tbs. nutritional yeast
1-2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
½ clove garlic
a big handful of spinach
a pinch of ground turmeric and dash pepper
ground cayenne, to taste
½ cup water or more

  1. Drain and rinse the cashews.
  2. Put all ingredients, except the water, in a high-speed blender or food processor and blend, adding water a little water at a time until the desired consistency is reached.

 

A Note:
If you’re interested in learning more about phytoestrogens and breast cancer, I encourage you to read the summary of research available on the Breast Cancer Prevention Partners website, and possibly discuss with your physician.

 

The material on this website is not to be used by any commercial or personal entity without expressed written consent of the blog author. The statements on this blog are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your personal physician or reach out to me for specific, individualized nutritional advice.

 

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Quinoa + Chorizo Wintry Salad

Quinoa + Chorizo Wintry Salad

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My mom and I sat at the farm table this morning planning this week’s holiday meals. There is ham, turkey, prime rib and likely a roast to be served up in the coming days. Last night we had steak for dinner, good steak of the homegrown variety. I failed to mention to the family that I haven’t had meat since Thanksgiving, and the steak was enough to last me for the next couple months. I don’t strictly avoid meat, but it’s never been my thing and I tend to partake in small amounts, infrequently. The stretches in between have grown wider in the last couple years and this being the case, I’m generally put on vegetable duty for family meals. I’m happy to have all the holiday sides for the planning, so there will be the full spectrum of winter roots and greens putting on their best show this week.

 

The Recipe Redux folks asked us to share a peak into the cookbooks we’re using, so this salad is from a current favorite that gets much use. Green Kitchen Stories(UK)/Vegetarian Everyday(USA) absolutely reflects my style of eating (and William’s too, as long as meat makes an appearance in his diet semi-regularly). It is written by the Swedish/Danish couple, David and Luise, of the lovely Green Kitchen Stories blog. Their recipes are the inspiration behind many a meal in our home, whether it be via their cookbook, blog, or instagram feed. They’ve also recently released a second cookbook, Green Kitchen Travels, and it’s super-duper on my Christmas wish list. This meat-free(!) Chorizo & Quinoa Salad is perhaps the most time-consuming of recipes I’ve made in their book, and its super-packed with feel-good-tasty-nutritiousness that we could all use this time of year.

 

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I made up a big batch of this salad before making the trek across the state to visit the family, and though I get a lot of flack for being oh-so-health-nutty ’round these parts, these people also like to eat my salads and approvingly devoured every bit of the simple Mushroom, Tomato, and White Bean Stew I made for this evening’s dinner. I do like Chorizo if it’s of the small-batch made, not wrapped in plastic sketchy supermarket sort, and this salad would definitely be excellent with the real deal instead. I’m not at all into fake meat so endorsing a homemade vegan chorizo means David and Luise are truly on to something. If you’ve extra time on your hands in the next few days or your holiday meals need a hefty dose of antioxidants, this is your dish. I changed up the original recipe quite a bit, adding in wintry broccoli, broccoli sprouts, turnips, pomegranate and garbanzo beans in lieu of the original fruit, vegetable, and bean mixture. The chorizo makes it super tasty and balances out the stronger brassicas and mustard dressing. Perhaps, if you’re anything like me, this will be a welcome reprieve from the many heftier meals that will be had in this season.

 

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Chorizo + Quinoa Salad, adapted from Vegetarian Everyday. Serves 4-6

VEGETABLE CHORIZOS

Scant ½ cup sundried tomatoes, rinsed

½ cup cashews, toasted

¼ cup hazelnuts, toasted

2 leeks, diced

2 green chili peppers, diced

6 unsulphured dried apricots, finely chopped

2 sprigs of oregano, leaves picked and chopped

1 cup brown rice flour

1 Tbs. xanthan gum

1 Tbs. ground flax seeds

3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

4 ½ cups vegetable stock

2 tsp. olive oil, for frying

 

QUINOA SALAD

1 cup quinoa

3 medium turnips, chopped

Seeds from one pomegranate

One bunch broccoli florets

4 leeks, diced

2 cups cooked garbanzo beans

1 cup broccoli sprouts, more or less to taste

 

DRESSING

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Zest and juice of ½ a lemon

3 Tbs. hot English mustard

Sea salt

A few sprigs of oregano, to garnish

 

To prepare the chorizos, combine the sundried tomatoes, cashews, hazelnuts, leeks, chili, and apricots in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Add the oregano, rice flour, xanthan gum and flaxseed and pulse until everything is combined. Add the olive oil and ¼ cup water and pulse until a dough is formed. It should be easy to handle and form into a sausage shape.

Divide the dough into 5 equal parts. Roll each piece into a sausage, place on a piece of cheesecloth, roll up and tie both ends firmly with a piece of twine.

Bring the vegetable stock to a boil in a large, wide saucepan. Lay the chorizos in it and let them boil for about 45 minutes. Next, carefully remove the cheesecloth from the boiled chorizos. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan on medium-high heat and fry the chorizos until they are nicely browned all over.

In the frying pan, next lightly sauté the leeks and turnips until just tender. Toss in the broccoli florets for a minute or so to soften. Transfer them to a large serving bowl.

Next, prepare the quinoa salad. Place 2 cups water, the quinoa, and a pinch of salt in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Set aside to cool. Slice the fried chorizos.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Add the quinoa, remaining vegetables, pomegranate seeds, beans and chorizo to the serving bowl. Pour about half the dressing over and toss until everything is well coated. Add more dressing, as necessary. Garnish with oregano and serve.