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I'm Crystal Vaughn

a classically trained chef taking holistic plant-based nutrition on a grand adventure through North America. When I’m not creating in our traveling kitchen, you can usually find me on my yoga mat or a hiking trail.

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Jul 23, 2014

Believe it or not, this is better than the real thing.  

Are you familiar with Tempeh?  If not, you are in for a treat.  I’m not going to lie to you; Tempeh is a little odd looking at first.  It took me a while to actually buy it.  I can’t tell you how many times I had it in my cart at the grocery store and then would put it back on the shelf before checking out.  One day, I decided I had to give it a try and I’m so very glad I did.

Tempeh is a cultured soybean product originating from Indonesia.  By fermenting the beans, they release their phytic acid, and it becomes easier to digest all the good nutrients the legume has to offer.  Other ways to release phytic acid from beans, grains, seeds and nuts is to soak or sprout.  Tempeh is sometimes made with the addition of seeds and grains.  They are delicious as well, but for this recipe plain soybean tempeh is preferred.  Tempeh is also very nutritious.  It has high levels of protein, calcium, manganese, fiber and more.  Oh, and always, I mean ALWAYS, buy organic.  If it’s not organic you can bet it is GMO and you do not want to eat it.  I will go into my thoughts on GMOs at a later date but for now back to the tempeh….

For this recipe I prefer to steam the tempeh.  Steaming makes it more tender and also gives it a little milder flavor, which is ideal for this dish.  I just toss it into a steamer basket but you can use any steaming method you prefer.  

While steaming the tempeh mix up the “dressing” or vegan mayo, either description will suffice.  Blend the soaked cashews, water, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, agave, garlic, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper until a smooth consistency is reached.

Once, the tempeh has steamed and cooled a bit, cut into small pieces.  Then mix with the dressing and diced red onion. 

Serve on bread as a sandwich or get creative and scoop it inside a tomato or avocado. It is really delicious with the avocado!  Which is why I chose to serve it that way here.

Ever used tempeh before?  Or excited to try a new ingredient?  Please let me know in the comments.  I would love to hear from you!

Tempeh "Tuna" Salad
Serves 4


1 package tempeh (7 oz. / 200 g)

1/2 cup raw cashews

3 tbsp water

1/2 tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

2 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp agave

1 garlic clove

1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard (I use coarse ground)

salt and pepper, to taste

1/4 cup red onion, diced small


1. Soak the cashews.  (Overnight is recommended but four hours will suffice)

2. Steam the tempeh for 10 minutes.  Once cooled enough to handle, cut into small cubes, about 1/8 inch cubes.  Set aside.

2. Drain the cashews then add them to a blender or a food processor with water, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, agave, dijon mustard, salt and pepper until it has reached a smooth consistency.  

3. In a bowl, mix the tempeh, diced red onion and cashew mixture until everything is thoroughly combined.  

4. Serve on bread, in a hollowed out tomato, scooped on top of an avocado, or on your choice of greens.

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The information on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any health condition or disease. It does not replace medical advice from a licensed professional.