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Smothered Tempeh Sandwich & Sweet Potato Salad

Posted May 20 2008 12:00am

This menu is proof that just because you don’t like something when you’re younger does not mean you’re destined to hate it forever. As a kid, mushrooms and soy products were two of the things I avoided at all costs. In fact, I didn’t end up becoming fond of mushrooms until last year when my effort to become healthier made me more adventurous about my veggie selection (I did discover a love of tofu much earlier through a vegetarian friend in college). As a kid I remember picking mushrooms off pizza, despite being an otherwise open-minded eater. Soy was an even more feared food for me. I have distinct memories of a rumor in elementary school that our burritos were made with tofu. We even nicknamed them ‘barfurritos’ because of it. Looking back I highly doubt I understood what tofu was, I just assumed at the time it was gross. Imagine if the 11-year-old version of myself knew that some day tofu, tempeh, and mushrooms would be among my favorite foods.

It was those new loves that inspired my dinner tonight: a Smothered Tempeh Sandwich with a side of Sweet Potato Salad. Just the sound of the sandwich made my mouth water. I mean, it’s hard to not salivate over something that is ’smothered.’ The recipe from Eating Well, which can be found here, involved sauteing mushrooms and red onion slices in canola oil before deglazing the pan with a cup of red wine and adding thinly sliced tempeh to the mixture. It then goes on toasted bread with melted cheese. I followed the recipe pretty closely but did make a few tweaks, which included reducing the canola oil to 1 teaspoon, sprinkling in some dried thyme, and using only 1/2 an ounce of cheese per serving.

I served it with a side of Sweet Potato Salad from the recently published O, The Oprah Magazine Cookbook. (You can also find that recipe here.) I decided to check out the cookbook after seeing some of the recipes demonstrated on Good Morning America and I wasn’t disappointed. It contained a great variety of recipes, including this potato salad that caught my eye. It featured a colorful and flavorful mix of sweet potatoes, celery, red bell pepper, toasted pecans, and pineapple with chives for a garnish.
The verdict: The combination of the sandwich and potato salad made for a delicious weeknight spring meal. The sandwich tasted so rich and savory between the mushrooms, tempeh, and wine that I almost felt the cheese wasn’t needed. Given that I am quite the cheese addict, I think that says a lot. The potato salad was also delicious. It had a great balance of textures and the pineapple gave it a lovely sweet flavor that felt like summer in a bite. Overall I REALLY enjoyed both of these recipes and am sure that the potato salad especially will become a summer BBQ favorite. I definitely prefer it over the recipe I’ve made previously out out of Moosewood Low Fat Favorites.

On an unrelated note, I’ve been traveling for business for the past two days and was able to finish reading American Pie, which I found to be incredibly informative and entertaining. I guess this shouldn’t be a surprise given the impressive reviews it garnered on Amazon. Needless to say I see more pizza making in my future. The only challenge is he offers up a few different crust recipes so it will be tough to decide what to try first.
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