Tempeh piccata.

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Since a week or so, morning air is damp, frosty and foggy, and leaves are also abundantly turning colour. Autumn is officially here now, so no need to think up excuses for preparing simple, sturdy meals anymore.

One of my favourites is tempeh piccata. I did not have the faintest idea what piccata sauce was until I first came across the seitan piccata dish in Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s 2007 bestseller Veganomicon. This tangy, white wine-based dish with capers and lemon juice just had it all! I thought. Until I hit upon Chef Chloé‘s tempeh piccata. Then I knew that bringing both recipes together would be joining the best of both worlds: white wine and smothered tempeh. Other than Moskowitz, Coscarelli does not serve the sauce alongside the seitan – or tempeh. No, the tempeh is simmered IN the sauce, which is thickened (with arrowroot or corn starch) and smoothened (with vegan butter). But she leaves out the caper brine and thyme, and on top of that also the white wine, which I think is a huge, no, gigantic mistake! If there’s an opportunity to smuggle wine into sauce, grab it :-).  So now I always make this hybrid piccata, which is a winner.

I usually serve this tempeh dish (which you can easily make with seitan too) with mashed potatoes and string beans. I prefer pimping mainstream potato mash, though. Why using solely potatoes, if you can add celeriac, parsnip and/or cauliflower? And even cannellini beans (yes, beans) for extra creaminess?

Tempeh piccata

Ingredients

  • 250g smoked tempeh (or seitan), cut in bite-sized slices (I never use regular tempeh; smoked seitan is so much richer in flavour
  • 1,5 onion (or an equivalent amount of shallots)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (you can add more, according to your own liking)
  • sea salt, crushed black pepper, pinch of thyme
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot dissolved in  tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2-3 tbsp capers (including the brine)
  • optional: some kalamata olives and parsle.

Instructions

  • Heat some olive oil in a skillet and fry the tempeh/seitan pieces until golden. Remove from the skillet and put on a plate.
  • In the same skillet, now sauté the onions and garlic until translucent, and slightly browned.
  • Slowly add the wine and the broth, season with salt, pepper and thyme, and bring the sauce to a boil. Then reduce the heat and let it simmer.
  • When the sauce is somewhat reduced, add the dissolved cornstarch, and let the sauce thicken.
  • Add the lemon juice and capers (and olives, if using), and stir in the margarine. Let simmer for some more minutes and stir in the parsley.
Potato mash

Ingredients

  • 3-4 cups white root vegetables (I used potato and celeriac) and cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup cannellini beans
  • olive oil
  • black pepper, salt and nutmeg

Instruction

  • Bring vegetable stock to a boil and add the diced vegetables (and cauliflower florets, if using)
  • When the vegetables are fork-tender, drain them, but make sure to keep the liquid.
  • Mix in the cannellini beans and a drizzle of olive oil, season with black pepper, salt and nutmeg, and mash!
  • Add some of the drained stock if necessary.
String beans

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 onion
  • ca. 4 cups string beans (or as much as you usually have)
  • vegetable stock
  • a pinch of savory

Instructions

  • Fry the onion until translucent
  • Add the string beans and some vegetable stock (just enough to cover the bottom of the pan – the beans should not be floating in water)
  • Cook (with a lid) until fork-tender.
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