If you’re looking for a tasty and simple dinner idea, consider adding this stir-fry dish to your weeknight repertoire. This inexpensive recipe features tempeh, a fermented soybean product similar to tofu, but far more nutritious. Unlike tofu that goes through a de-hulling and extraction process removing nutrients and fiber, tempeh is whole fermented soybeans formed into a cake. Fermentation allows the nutrients inherent in whole soybeans to be more bioavailable, which means your body absorbs more of the legume’s health-promoting vitamins, calcium and protein.
Of particular note, tempeh is rich in a phytonutrient called genistein, an isoflavone shown to provide cancer protection by slowing tumor growth and increasing programmed cell death of cancer cells. Isoflavones are plant-based estrogens that can help protect cells from binding with more harmful chemical estrogens (xenoestrogens or endocrine disruptors) thought to fuel hormone-receptive breast and prostate cancers.
Most soybeans grown in the U.S. are GMOs and treated with chemicals such as glyphosate, so it’s important to buy organic. This brand is available at most grocers, or look for locally produced tempeh, such as this one in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Tempeh & Asparagus Stir-Fry
Peanut or high heat avocado oil
8 ounces organic tempeh, cut into 1-inch pieces
I small bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1 tbsp peeled, grated ginger
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
6 oz shiitake mushrooms, chopped
a few pinches of pink Himalayan salt
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2+ cup toasted cashews, rough chopped
1-2 cups chopped spinach, kale or chard
zest and juice of one lime
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
Drizzle of toasted sesame oil
Fresh mint and basil, chopped
Heat peanut or avocado oil in a large pan, or well-seasoned wok over medium high heat. When it is hot, add the tempeh, and cook until golden - just a few minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Add a little more oil to the pan and, as soon as it is hot, add the onions, ginger, red pepper flakes, asparagus, mushrooms, and salt. Stir fry for about a minute, then add the garlic, cashews, and the greens and stir-fry for another minute or two, or until wilted. Return the tempeh to the pan. Stir in the lime zest and juice, the hoisin sauce, and sesame oil. Cook for another minute or so, stirring. Remove from heat and stir in the mint and basil. Taste and add a bit more salt if needed.
Note: Keep things seasonal and local by swapping out the asparagus and greens for summer squash, green beans, broccoli, bell peppers, Bok choy, or root veggies—whatever you find at your farmers’ market.