As you know, I have not had a lot of free time lately, so I have been lagging on lunch preparation. Last night I realized that unless I wanted a plain peanut butter sandwich, I had nothing for lunch today. So, Eric and I ran to the store to grab a few essentials, waiting to do a real shopping trip later since it was after 10pm and Sprouts was closed.
I knew that it had been too long since I had posted a proper recipe, so I quickly flipped through The Vegan Slow Cooker: Simply Set It and Go with 150 Recipes for Intensely Flavorful, Fuss-Free Fare Everyone (Vegan or Not!) Will Devour book and found the recipe for Asian Tempeh Lettuce Wraps. We had most of the ingredients on hand and I picked up the few extras while we were at the store. Preparation for this one is minimal. It would have been miniscule if I had a veggie chopper or a food processor, but I’m a pauper, so I chopped mine by hand. It cooked while we slept and smelled delicious when we woke up. Eric packed the filling in a reusable container for me and washed pieces of iceberg for wrapping. As a last minute addition, I tossed the jar of Hoisin sauce into my lunch bag.
I looked forward to my lunch all day and let me tell you, it did not disappoint! The flavors were delish and the Hoisin added a perfect amount of sauce. The only issue is that the actual sauce that it cooks in stays very watery (even after I cooked it for an additional half hour on high with the lid off). It was a big mess, dripping down to my wrist with every bite. I would just suggest straining out the liquid since it has done its job in flavoring the filling and the Hoisin can take it from there.
This is wonderful as a wrap, but would make a very nice salad topping. Loved it!
1 package (8 oz) plain soy tempeh, cubed
1 large stalk celery
2 medium-size carrots
1 can (8 oz) water chestnuts, drained
FOR THE SAUCE:
2 cloves minced garlic
1 Tbsp grated ginger, more as needed
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar or plain rice vinegar mixed with 1 tsp sugar
1/3 tsp red pepper flakes or sriracha
Whole iceberg or butter lettuce leaves, for serving
THE NIGHT BEFORE:
Steam the tempeh in a steamer basket/colander for 10 minutes. If you have neither, you can cover the bottom of a stir fry pan with a layer of water and boil it, then add the tempeh. I read that it works similarly to steaming since there isn’t enough water to really boil the tempeh. The steaming takes out some of the bitterness. While the tempeh is cooking, mince the celery , carrots, and water chestnuts.
To make the sauce: combine all the sauce ingredients in a large bowl. Add the tempeh, celery, carrots, and water chestnuts, cover, and store in the fridge. If you are making it overnight for a lunch like I did, just put everything in the slow cooker, no need to refrigerate it.
IN THE MORNING:
Place the tempeh, vegetables, and sauce in the slow cooker and smash the tempeh with a spoon until it crumbles. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Add an additional 1 tsp grated ginger if its flavor has dulled. Serve with whole lettuce leaves to wrap the filling in.
** The book suggests using the filling to make a banh mi sandwich. Serve on a toasted sub roll with fresh bean sprouts, shredded carrots, cilantro, and some jalapeños.