With winter break just barely over, I already find myself missing the abundance of free time that is a little-considered benefit of working in education. Each year, I start a list right around Thanksgiving of things I want to do, make, or take care over the long break and this year the list became a collection of recipes I’ve been intending to try, but haven’t because I didn’t think that they were accessible enough for a weeknight meal after a long day of work. Boy was I wrong…
Ever since a recent (disappointing) trip to a local Italian joint, I have been craving piccata. I didn’t think tofu would be an appropriate canvas for such a fantastically textured sauce, so some exploring on the magic internet brought me to Vegetarian Times’ recipe for Tempeh Piccata. Admittedly I was hesitant of how much you can actually tranform tempeh, but figured I had the time, the ingredients, and the curiosity to see this through, and Vegetarian Times has rarely steered me wrong!
For the tempeh triangles, we cut each ‘bar’ of tempeh into 3 squares like the recipe calls for, then cut each square into 2 triangles. We then split each triangle lengthwise, creating a thinner ‘steak’ of tempeh. We altered the timeline for the recipe a bit, starting by soaking the tempeh in milk and dredging it, then frying them in two batches. After the first batch, we dropped some orecchiette in water (the shape was perfect to nestle and catch the sauce!) and while the second batch was cooking, we made the sauce in a separate saucepan so that everything would be hot at the same time. Drop a tablespoon of butter into the sauce right at the end for added smoothness and to round out the flavors.
We really liked how tender the tempeh got because of how thin it was, in addition to the ratio of breading to tempeh…I think the normal thickness of a tempeh bar would be too dense in relation to the crust. The crunch on the breading was fantastic and offset the richness and tartness of the piccata sauce. From start to finish, dinner was less than 30 minutes to prep and cook, and I don’t think it was just anticipation that made us savor every last bite! Sometimes putting aside a project for a while lets you truly appreciate the fruits of your labor upon eventual success. Happy New Year from our family to yours!