It shouldn't surprise anybody to hear that the meat substitute of choice at our house is tempeh. (If only we could buy it downtown! But no.) We usually marinate it, sear it, and serve it on top of a gigantic green salad.
The other day, we had tempeh, but no salad greens. Instead, we had kale and chard. This could work, right?
Braised tempeh with chard
red wine vinegar
red pepper flake, fennel seed, oregano
chard (stems & leaves)
Start by marinating the tempeh. First, cut your block of tempeh into pieces about an inch square and half an inch thick. In a large bowl, mix together about 1/4 cup of olive oil, a cup of vegetable broth, a couple big spoonfuls of tomato sauce, a few minimal shakes of soy sauce and red wine vinegar, and several cloves of crushed, peeled garlic. Since I was working from frozen vegetable broth and tomato sauce, I heated them both up on the stovetop before I added them to the mix. Season the marinade with red pepper flake, fennel seed, and oregano. A bay leaf couldn't hurt, either.
Put all your tempeh into the marinade, arranging it so it's totally covered by liquid. If you don't have enough liquid, you can add a bit more broth.
Now leave the tempeh to marinate for at least a half hour, and preferably longer. An hour or two is ideal. I personally tend to cut my time as short as possible, because I start cooking when I'm already hungry, but I haven't noticed a huge difference in flavor with a longer marinade.
While your tempeh is soaking, wash a bunch of chard. I used one of the gargantuan bunches with stems two inches wide, partly because they were taking up inordinate room in the refrigerator and partly because I wanted substantial stem content. If you're using smaller chard, you may want to use two bunches. Any color should work fine. Cut (or rip) the leaves off the stems and separate into two piles. Trim your stems and cut them into convenient half-inch pieces. If you have gargantuan chard, cut each stem vertically a few times before you mince across. Essentially, you want to treat it like celery and cut it accordingly.
Give the leaves a rough chop, keeping them separate from the stems. Now set everything aside until your tempeh has marinated enough to cook.
When you're ready, heat up a frying pan, preferably one large enough to hold all your tempeh in one layer. Nonstick or cast iron is good. Warm some olive oil in the pan, add your tempeh (reserving the marinade), and sear. When you've got a reasonable brown color on each side, pour the marinade into the pan and bring it to a simmer. Add your chopped chard stems, turn the heat down to medium, and cook everything together, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is mostly absorbed and the tempeh and stems are tender. Add the chard leaves and a little salt and pepper, mix, and cook for another minute, or until the greens are wilted. Correct seasonings, and you're done.
We ate our tempeh and chard by themselves, but clearly this would be great over rice, barley, or whatever grain you like. If you want to go nuts (or serve more people) you could even do risotto. Voila: dinner!