Thai Tempeh & Vegetable Red Curry

After 4 years of university when (fairly infrequent) classes and lectures were no more than 5 minutes away by bike, followed by a long summer break free of any commitments, you could say I’m used to having plenty of time for cooking and being able to do so when I want.

Thai Tempeh & Vegetable Red Curry

Now, however, things are a little different. I still do work a lot from home, but I have to travel to get to my classes and sometimes spend all day on campus and then have to face bus queues and the ride home. I certainly have a new found appreciation of what the real world is like! After a long day of work and arriving home hungry, the last thing I want to do is think about putting together an elaborate meal.

If, even I, the self-proclaimed cooking lover, feels like this, then what must the majority of the world’s population working 9-5 jobs feel like?!

Thai Tempeh & Vegetable Red Curry

Ruling out the easy option of packaged ready meals from the outset, which are typically unhealthy, expensive and, most importantly to me, just don’t taste good (!), I’ve been trying to come up with some quick meals which don’t require much effort, ideal for the aforementioned evenings.

This Thai Tempeh & Vegetable Red Curry ticked all the boxes- easy, speedy and nourishing! In fact, if it weren’t for the rice I served with it, this could be on the table in 15 minutes.

I even made sure there was minimal chopping involved!

Thai Tempeh & Vegetable Red Curry

Feel free to use whatever vegetables on hand- bell peppers, courgettes and aubergine would also be nice. Of course you’ve got more chopping involved with those choices though…

Thai Tempeh & Vegetable Red Curry:

1T Coconut oil (divided)
1/2 8oz Pkg tempeh, cut into triangles or cubes (I used a variety with sea vegetables, hence the black bits…)
1 1/2-2T Red curry paste (check the label for shellfish!)
3/4C/1/2 Can Coconut milk
1/2T Tamari
1/2T Coconut sugar
1T Lime juice
100g/3.5oz/1 1/2C Halved mushrooms
100g/3.5oz Sugar snap peas
100g/3.5oz Baby corn, halved lengthwise
Handful of Thai basil (you could also use fresh coriander but Thai basil is really really good!)

If you’re cooking rice, make sure to get that going before you do anything else.

Sauté the tempeh in 1/2T Coconut oil over medium-high heat, flipping to get it brown on all sides.

Heat the remaining 1/2T coconut oil in a pot over medium heat and add the red curry paste. Stir for a minute just to toast the spices and bring the flavours out.

Stir through the coconut milk, tamari, coconut sugar and lime.
Add vegetables, cover, and simmer for about 5 minutes, just until vegetables are tender. Stir through the Thai basil leaves and the tempeh and simmer for another minute just to warm through the tempeh.

Serve with brown rice, rice noodles or another grain.

Serves 2 


Thai Tempeh & Vegetable Red Curry

Preparation tends to be a big help in getting meals on the table speedily. Here are a few of my top tips:

-Cook a big batch of grains and beans at the weekend to use throughout the week.

-Make a dressing, and/or sauce, and a dip. Again, these will last you all week and mean you can jazz up a side salad to go with your meal or a simple bowl of grains, veggies and beans. If I’m starving when I get in I also like to munch on some carrot sticks and hummus (or other homemade dip) while I prep dinner.

-Have a well-stocked pantry. Although my preference is for cooking beans from scratch, sometimes I forget to soak them and it’s useful to have a few cans on hand. Along with dried beans, lentils, grains, pasta and noodles, dried fruit and nuts, other ingredients I stock are canned tomatoes, coconut milk and silken tofu (for noodle soups, sauces and desserts).

-Don’t forget the spices. Having a wide range of spices might seem unnecessary but it’s the way to go to add a lot of flavour to your dishes, without long simmering or roasting.

-Wash and chop your vegetables in advance. Supermarkets these days are doing a roaring trade in prepared vegetables, unsurprisingly as this is another time-zapper. These are always more expensive than the whole vegetables though and if you dedicate half an hour of time to chopping up vegetables in advance you’ll be amazed at how much quicker your meals come together. Most vegetables can be chopped in advance and stored in a covered container in the fridge. For vegetables I won’t be cooking and which I want to stay crunchy, I cover them in cold water and store them like that.

-Use your freezer. For when I really don’t want to cook I make use of my own freezer meals! Sometimes I cook enough for a few meals, and even if I don’t want to eat the same thing 3 days in a row, I store the leftovers in the freezer. Just get out whatever it is in the morning and let it defrost ready for you to simply re-heat and eat in the evening.

And of course….

-Meal-Plan. This makes life SO much easier. Knowing what you want to eat the week ahead means you’ll have all the ingredients you need on hand and not be left with a growling tummy staring blankly into an empty fridge come dinner time! Set aside an hour a week to go through those recipes you’ve saved online and/or your cookbooks, and pick a few you want to try that week. Write them down along with a list of anything you need to buy.


That’s all I can think of right now but please do share your own tips in the comments.

Do you have any super speedy, healthy meals to share?

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G is for…

Green Curry Paste!

Thai Green Curry Tempeh Cakes

I ummed and ahed over what to choose for “G”. A rummage in my pantry had me pull out garam masala, ginger, green tea and goldenberries before I found this jar of green curry paste. It’s a bit of a giveaway as to how long I’ve had it that the label is in French. I lived in Paris from January to July 2012 so over a year has gone by since I bought this, and it was unopened! Ooops!

It might seem a rather strange thing to bring back with me but often curry pastes contain shellfish so when I stumbled across this one I excitedly snapped it up. It turns out it’s not actually difficult to find vegan curry paste here after all, but, as you can probably tell, I like to be prepared…

Thai Green Curry Tempeh Cakes

I of course could have just made a curry but I was feeling more creative than that and came up with these Thai Green Curry Tempeh Patties instead. They’re pretty easy to make, with just a few ingredients, including the curry paste. Topped with a zingy lime-coconut sauce I had the full curry experience in a different form.

Thai Green Curry Tempeh Cakes

I had half a package of tempeh to use up so just made a small batch of these. You could easily double the ingredients to use a whole package though.

Green Curry Tempeh Patties:

1/2 225g/8oz pkg Tempeh
1/2T Green Curry Paste
1/2C Shredded Courgette (squeeze out water and measure afterwards)
1 Small clove of garlic, minced
2 Green onions, minced (approx 2T)
2T Breadcrumbs (I make breadcrumbs with any leftover bread and freeze them so I always have them to hand, For GF use GF bread)
1/2T Ground flax seed + 1 1/2T Water
Salt + Pepper to taste

Whisk together ground flax and water and leave to thicken whilst you prepare the other ingredients.

Crumble tempeh into a bowl with your fingers, add shredded courgette, garlic and green onions, Stir in breadcrumbs and flax mixture and mix well, use your hands if you like. You may need another tablespoon of breacrumbs if it’s still very sticky.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Heat a medium-sized pan over medium heat and add a little drizzle of oil. Shape mixture into 4 patties and cook for a few minutes on each side, until lightly browned. (You could probably bake these for a drier texture but I  haven’t tried it)

Serve with the Lime-Coconut Sauce

Serves 2

Thai Green Curry Tempeh Cakes

Coconut-Lime Sauce:

1 Small clove of garlic
1/2 Chili, deseeded and minced
1/8t Salt
1/2C Coconut Milk
3/4T Lime juice
2 Green onions, finely chopped
2T Chopped fresh coriander

Using a pestle and mortar (or the flat of your knife on a chopping board) smash together the garlic, chili and salt. Stir in the coconut milk and lime juice and finally the fresh coriander and green onions.

Thai Green Curry Tempeh Cakes


I loved these over sautéed kale and quinoa, especially as the greens and grains soak up the tasty sauce.

Now, does anyone have a good Thai green curry recipe?! Or other dishes using green curry paste?

What unopened ingredients do you have in your pantry? It can’t just be me!

Hope everyone’s keeping up with Vegan MoFo now we’re into Week 2 Smile

Tempeh Pasta alla Carbonara

Pasta alla carbonara, the classic Italian dish, typically combines spaghetti with fried pancetta or bacon and a sauce made with eggs, cheese and cream. Decidedly non-vegan fare, but here of course done vegan-style!

Nuts show their magic once again in this velvety, animal-product free sauce (with tahini and cashew butter), and salty, crispy tempeh stands in brilliantly for the pancetta.

Ricki Heller is to thank for this recipe. Ricki writes the blog Diet, Dessert and Dogs, home to a phenomenal number of fantastic vegan kitchen creations-“sugar-free, gluten-free, allergy-friendly”.

I’ve made a lot of her recipes:  Grain-free coconut flour biscuits, Edamame seaweed saladLemony baked cheesecake, Warm chickpea + artichoke salad, Chocolate almond mousse, Fruity cabbage salad, Almond + curry sauce, Quinoa chickpea olive + prune tagine, Carob + date pancakes….just to name a few, and I can’t name any failures!

Tempeh Pasta Carbonara, close-up

My Granny was eating with us the evening I made this pasta and knowing that she doesn’t usually eat a lot I just gave her a small amount, but she was nabbing bits of the tempeh bacon from the serving dish and said how much she enjoyed it. I’ll make a vegan out of her yet…!

Tempeh Pasta Carbonara

There are a few components to the recipe but it really doesn’t take that long to come together so don’t be put off by the ingredients list and instructions.

Tempeh Pasta Carbonara

(Minimally adapted from Diet, Dessert, and Dogs)

For the Tempeh Bacon:

1/2 8oz/225g pkg Tempeh, very thinly sliced and diced into bite-size pieces.
1 1/2 T Tamari
1T Lemon juice
1/8 t Liquid smoke OR 1/4t smoked paprika
1 Clove garlic, minced
1T Olive oil
3-4 Drops liquid stevia OR 2-3t Agave/Maple syrup
1/4C + 1 T Water

For the Sauce:

1T Cashew butter
1/2T White miso
1/2T Tahini
1/8t Dijon mustard
1/8t Turmeric
Salt + Pepper
1/2C Almond milk, unsweetened
1/2C Vegetable broth
1T Arrowroot + 2-3T Hot Water

1/2C Green peas (fresh or frozen)

Enough Pasta for 2-3, any variety (I did 150g/1 heaping cup Brown Rice Fusilli which was enough for 3 modest servings)

1-2T Chopped Parsley

Prepare the tempeh bacon: Slice tempeh up, mix remaining ingredients in a large frying pan over medium heat and add tempeh.

Let simmer gently for approx 5 minutes until sauce begins to evaporate. Flip pieces over carefully and leave to brown for another 5 minutes. Flip tempeh one more time and cook the other side until brown and crispy. Turn off heat and set pan aside.

Prepare the pasta according to package instructions, in last couple of minutes of cooking time add your peas so they cook through. Drain, reserving 1/4 C pasta water.

While pasta is cooking prepare sauce:

In a medium pan over low heat whisk together ingredients on list up to and including salt and pepper. Gradually add milk and broth, whisking all the while to avoid lumps and produce a smooth sauce.

In a small bowl dissolve the arrowroot in the hot water. Gradually add this mixture to the sauce pan, keep whisking as it will thicken up pretty quickly. Continue to cook for a further minute until thick and creamy.

Add pasta, peas and tempeh pieces to the sauce pot, stir sauce through, cover and warm through for approx 5 minutes. If it looks a little dry add the reserved pasta water and continue to heat until warm and everything is nicely coated in the sauce.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

Serves 2-3

Have you veganized any seemingly very un-vegan recipes?

What are your favourite Ricki recipes? If you’re unfamiliar with Diet, Dessert, and Dogs get over there now!

Ginger Cashew Tempeh + Sugar Snap Peas

Tempeh is unfortunately not too easily found in the UK, even in health food stores. But I’ve fallen in love with the stuff so on a recent order from Goodness Direct (I buy all my raw nuts and seeds, dried beans etc. from here as it’s great value and you can buy in larger quantities than elsewhere) I bought several packages to keep handy in the freezer.

Although tempeh, like tofu, is made from soy beans, it’s quite different. Tempeh is made from whole cooked fermented soy beans whereas tofu is made from coagulated soymilk. Tempeh is generally firmer and chewier and is mildly flavourful on its own, unlike tofu. As tempeh is less processed it’s also considered healthier, with even more protein than tofu (approx 18g per/100g) and high levels of calcium and iron.

If you haven’t tried it yet or aren’t a fan of tofu I’d definitely suggest giving tempeh a go. Both have a place in my kitchen.

Some find the flavour to be a little bitter straight out of the package but steaming it can help. Simply place sliced tempeh in a saucepan and cover with water or vegetable broth. Bring liquid to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Then remove the tempeh and proceed with marinating, grilling, baking, or however you’re preparing it.

This recipe is a nice introduction to tempeh as it’s not particularly complicated  and the ginger and garlic mean the tempeh flavour doesn’t come through hugely strongly.

If you can get hold of water chestnuts I highly recommend them in this dish, their sweet flavour and crispy texture really worked for me.

Ginger Cashew Tempeh + Sugar Snap Peas

Ginger Cashew Tempeh + Sugar Snap Peas:

1C Broccoli, broken into florets (don’t throw away the stalks! Just dice them up and throw them in too)
1C Sugar snap peas
1/2T neutral oil + 1/2T Toasted Sesame Oil
1/2 225g/8oz pkg Tempeh, cubed [pre-steamed if desired, see note above]
1/4C Cashews
1/2T Minced fresh ginger
2 Cloves garlic
1/4t Chili flakes
1/2 225g/80z Can water chestnuts, sliced thinly
1T Tamari or Bragg’s
1/2T Rice vinegar
1/2-1C Vegetable broth (I use Marigold Vegan Bouillon)
1T Flour (any)
Noodles (pictured are Clearspring Organic Udon), or Rice to serve

Prepare your noodles or rice first as the stir-fry is quick to come together

Steam Broccoli and Sugar Snaps for a few minutes until bright green and tender, set aside in a bowl.

Heat oils in a large pan or wok over medium-high and when hot add tempeh. Toss frequently and when it’s a little brown on all sides add cashews and continue to cook until golden. Add tempeh and cashews to the bowl with your vegetables.

In the same hot wok add garlic and ginger and cook for a minute before adding the remaining ingredients, except for the flour. As it begins to bubble gradually whisk in the flour- it should thicken up the sauce fairly quickly. At this point, if you prefer it a little more saucy add a touch more water, but not too much as you don’t want to dilute the flavours.

Toss in reserved vegetables, tempeh and cashews, mix to coat in sauce and warm through.

Serve over noodles or rice.

Serves 2

Ginger Cashew Tempeh + Sugar Snap Peas

Have you cooked with tempeh before? What do you think?