Honey BBQ tempeh salad


Writing up the salad part of this recipe feels a little frivolous somehow, with my own voice taunting, like you need a recipe?! Because this is truly such a "whatever's left in the fridge" sort of salad that happens to be great topped with yummy tempeh cooked in a simple barbeque sauce. The latter being what this post is really for: "sauce" which feels more like seasoning. A few ingredients pull together super quickly and lends great flavor without being over-powering, yet collaborate in such an adaptable way, the word recipe doesn't necessarily apply here, either. So, what I guess I'm really saying is, here's something pretty foolproof to mix-match, add, subtract and have fun with. :) bbq tempeh-1

Seriously, there's a lot to love about this salad. First of all, what's not to love about salad (especially with summer around the corner)? Second, this sauce sits really well with tempeh, which really deserves a little more love than it sometimes receives, if only for its satisfyingly firm, whole bean, chewy nuttiness. Tempeh may not be the first star when it comes to lauded shows of fermented foods (kim chee and sauerkraut tend to take the stage first),  but fermented it is, making it easier on digestion. So, it's not surprise that it can get a slight but distinct fermented flavor that is what it is, coagulated soybeans, and isn't necessarily everyone's cup of tea (hand raised). Smothering with a sauce like this one, however, brings out the best in robust yet porous texture and taste.

bbq tempeh3-1

Like it's counterpart, tofu, tempeh is a complete protein (and 20% at that), while also being low in fat, high in fiber, and a solid source of calcium, iron, phosphorous, vitamin A, and B-complex vitamins. But you know I wouldn't be half so enthusiastic right now if Little Big Boy wouldn't eat it, or if it were painstaking and finicky to make. Mini sous chef threw just about all the salad components into the bowl, shook the dressing, stirred the pan, easily deconstructed the parts he liked best, and shoveled them in. What more can we ask for family dinner? Honey BBQ tempeh salad Serves 4-6

For the tempeh:

  • ⅓ cup no salt added tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup honey (I love Madhava hickory sage honey in  this recipe, but regular honey works great, too)
  • 8 ounces tempeh, cubed
  • Cooking spray


For the salad:

  • 4 cups fresh spinach or mixed greens
  • ¾ cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup cooked black beans, chickpeas, or other beans/legumes of choice, rinsed and drained
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, cut in thin strips
  • 1 ½ cups grated carrots
  • 1 ½ cups shredded or chopped red cabbage
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 avocado, seeded and sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • ½ teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey (optional)
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  1. Prepare the barbeque sauce: in a bowl, use a fork or whisk  tomato paste, vinegar, spices, and honey until well-blended.
  2. Heat a large skillet with cooking spray and add the tempeh to the pan. Saute for 1-2 minutes, turning at least once. Pour over BBQ sauce and stir to cover and coat. Let simmer on medium low,  stirring occasionally, 10-15 minutes. Keep warm, covered in pan.
  3. While tempeh is cooking, prepare the lemon dressing: whisk lemon juice, oil, zest, mustard, honey and salt and pepper in a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Prepare the salad: combine all remaining ingredients in a large bowl. When ready to serve, toss salad with dressing, divide into bowls and top with tempeh.