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15 Minute Brussels Sprout & Tempeh Stir-Fry

I’ve long wanted to feature a recipe with tempeh on the blog, so I’ve simply got to say this is surely overdue. The truth is, even as long-term (my whole life) vegetarian (zero meat or fish – ever), the truth is, I’m not really a huge fan of soy. Growing up, tofu was a regular feature on my mom’s vegetarian dinner table, and we kids never passed it up with her deliciously fried medium tofu cubes that tasted amazing cooked up in plenty of soy sauce and then dunked in ketchup to seal the deal. Ah, the good old days. But I digress.

As an adult, I like tofu, but I don’t eat it too too often, as I prefer to eat beans cooked from scratch or foods that are (just a little) less processed. Don’t get me wrong though, it has its place in my kitchen, as it’s always a big hit with kids when fried in yeast and olive oil. One day I mean to feature that cooking method here on the blog but I think I’m getting off topic here just a little. Oy vey.

Tempeh, however, is not tofu, though both are based from soybeans. Tempeh leaves me feeling strong, where tofu can leave me feeling bloated. It could be that tempeh undergoes a different processing method to tofu, as it is fermented where tofu is not. My body responds well to fermented foods of all kinds, and I’ve come to the conclusion through the years that this must be a factor.

I’d love to know from those of you out there who have eaten both tofu & tempeh – anyone out there with a similar take? Regardless, if you are new to vegetarian eating, this could be a fantastic new food to discover, and I can’t think of a more delicious way to enjoy it than this. Yum!

Today’s recipe is inspired by Bon Appetit once again, where in a recent issue they featured a plate of stir-fried brussels sprouts & veggies (their version was not vegetarian) in what sounded like a simple yet dynamite sauce full of flavors I love: ginger & soy & sesame. You just can never go wrong with those, not ever.

I loved this meal and hope you will too. It keeps extremely well and makes for fantastic leftover weeknight meals. Feel free to substitute tofu for the tempeh (or even for you non-veggies you could add whatever protein you like here) if you like or omit the protein portion altogether.

Easy meals like this are what make not eating healthy seem downright silly. Not when food this tasty is so cheap & easy to make, not to mention fast. Really, really fast.

15 Minute Brussels Sprout & Tempeh Stir-Fry:

Adapted from Bon Appetit
(20) brussels sprouts, washed, trimmed & halved
(1#) plain tempeh, cubed
(4) green onions, chopped & divided between greens & whites
(3) garlic cloves (optional – I omitted these)
(2) tbsp grated fresh ginger
(2) medium carrots, peeled & sliced on the diagonal
(1) medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped fine
(1) tbsp cornstarch
(3) tbsp soy sauce
(2) tbsp rice vinegar (seasoned or unseasoned)
(1/4) cup water
(4) tbsp sesame oil, for the stir-frying

Start by combining the cornstarch, soy sauce, rice vinegar & water in a small bowl with a whisk. Mix and set aside.

As with any stir-fry or curry dish, the most important thing is be prepared with all of the ingredients before cooking. Prepare & cut the brussels and set aside in a separate bowl. Prepare the tempeh and set aside in a separate bowl. Finally, prepare the green onions (setting aside the greens separately in a bowl on their own) and the ginger & optional garlic. Prep the carrots & bell pepper and set them aside together.

When ready to cook, heat a large cast iron frying pan or a wok on high and add 2 tbsp of sesame oil. Once hot, add the brussels sprout halves and cook, tossing here and there to prevent burning, for 4 minutes. Set the brussels sprouts aside in a medium bowl. Give the pan a little wipe with a paper towel and return the pan to the stove.

Heating another tbsp of sesame oil, this time add the cubed tempeh and cook in the oil (you may need to add a little more oil). Cook, stirring, for 4-5 minutes until the cubes are golden, starting to brown, and a little (deliciously) crispy.

Set the tempeh aside with the brussels sprouts (you can use the same bowl). Wipe the pan again and return it to the stove.

Next, heat the remaining tbsp of sesame oil, and cook the ginger, green onions & garlic (if using) for one minute, until fragrant, being careful not to burn the garlic. Next, add the green onion whites, carrots, & red pepper. Stir frequently and cook for 2 minutes until the colors are bright and they are just softened.

Keeping the heat on, add the cooked sprouts & the tempeh to the pan and mix all of the vegetables well together. To finish, give the bowl of prepared sauce a good stir with the whisk and pour the entire lot over the hot vegetables. Stir well as it thickens from the cornstarch. Cook, stirring constantly, for a final 2-3 minutes until glossy, hot & gorgeous.

Serve on its own, or with cooked rice, garnished with the sliced green onions. On its own, this meal makes for a rather satisfying plate, though those with appetites for more may wish to include some grains.

As I mentioned earlier, this dish keeps incredibly well in the fridge for days and re-heats so well you may even find you like it better as the week goes by. It’s hearty & filling while still being 100% plant-based. A super powered meal if I ever saw one.

58 responses to “15 Minute Brussels Sprout & Tempeh Stir-Fry

  1. this is so beautiful, shira! brussels sprouts are one of my all time favorite vegetables.

    i feel the same way about soy products. i pretty much keep completely away from them. i used to drink soy milk, but switched to almond about 2 years ago. i have literally never eaten tempeh, but have been curious about it. there was a 3 month stretch of time about 4 years ago where i always ordered a tofu dish at restaurants but then got completely repulsed by it. and i have never prepared tofu for myself… i just really prefer “from the earth” ingredients. beans, nuts, grains, fruits, and vegetables, and that’s it. things that are processed are just not for me.

  2. I still remember the very first time I tried tempeh. It was about two years ago, and I had just started working at Trader Joe’s. I saw the stuff in the fridge section and figured I better give it a try. With NO idea how to prepare it, I tried it with multiple different toppings (including maple syrup and ketchup) and I hated it!! I still ate it because I will never waste..but it was awful! I knew I had to give it another shot so maybe a year later I fried it with some coconut oil and made sandwiches with it and it was SO much better! Simple change, but it was like night and day haha. I will have to try this recipe!

    I’m with you on the tofu/soy products all together though..moderation for sure with those! I love tofu, but try not to eat it often and if I do I buy the sprouted tofu!

  3. I love the colors, Shira! I also prefer tempeh over tofu – though I love tofu and the many ways in which it can be prepared. Tempeh has a nice tooth to it and just seems “better” than tofu – I guess it’s the processing involved in making tofu that bothers me a little. Like Brittany, I buy sprouted tofu when I can find it.

  4. This recipe looks delicious. It took me awhile to acquire a taste for tempeh, but now that I have, it’s always my first choice over tofu. I’ve made an amazing tempeh ‘bacon’, I like it crumbled in veggie chilis, I buy some of the flavoured tempeh and eat it along with steamed veg, and there’s a tempeh tikka masala that is on my list to cook this week!

  5. What a beautiful dish! Justin and I are fans of Tempeh – we do prefer it over Tofu but both have a place in our Kitchen. Hands down our favorite way to enjoy tempeh is in my Smokey Tempeh Sliders- it is the number one meal requested by Justin!

  6. Goodness that looks tasty! I’m all about quick dinners that are still as healthy as all get out! Sometimes we need that 15 minute meal to keep us from popping something store-bought and frozen in the oven. This is even faster than frozen pizza (and much, much yummier!)

  7. This a winning combination: Simple. Elegant. Very delicious. Nutritious! What more could anyone ask for, and all in 15 minutes! This is on my menu rotation now. Thanks. (PS: forgot Beautiful, as in to behold).

  8. So happy I found this recipe, I love brussel sprouts! Made it the other day and it was so tasty! I even added some extra veggies that I had in the fridge needing to be used and it still tasted amazing:) Shared the recipe with my veggie friend, too. Thanks!

  9. I have the same deal with tofu, I just don’t like to eat a lot of it really. Tempeh I prefer because it does make me feel better and it’s so filling. I prefer to eat veggies and beans, which are less processed than most soy products. I also tend to stay away from vegan products that imitate meat somehow. They just don’t taste good and contain a lot of filler. I love this brussel sprout and tempeh combination, I may just make it tonight since I was planning to have tempeh anyway.

  10. I just made this for lunch today and it was AMAZING!! This was my first experience with Brussels sprouts and I am hooked! Thank you so much for creating this delicious recipe! It is officially added to my favorites :o)

  11. This recipe looks completely delicious! I’ve never cooked tempeh…I have had it before tho and LOVE it! I def want to try this recipe. Could you tell me a good brand of tempeh to buy and would they sell this at Whole Foods? Thank you! =)

  12. Hi, I just wanted to say thank you for posting such a yummy recipe! I actually just made it and it was delicious! It was like eating Chinese takeout without all the greasiness and with the satisfaction that I made it myself. I would cut up the carrots smaller next time or add them in earlier, but I will definitely be making this again:)

  13. Hi, Tonight I’ve cooked this dish and it was fantastic! At first, I was a little afraid that the brussels sprouts would stay too hard/uncooked but there’s nothing to worry about 😉 A feast to both the eyes (colour!) and the tastebuds (taste!). Thank you for sharing!

    I most definitely will add this to my list of favourite recipes.

  14. wonderful recipe~ im surprised to see Tempeh adapted into Western cuisine. Im used to eating it as a side dish with rice where i come from 😀

  15. This was DELICIOUS! I’ll jump at ordering anything with tempeh at a restaurant, and this was the first time I enjoyed it at home, too. Thanks for the great recipe.

    I made only two changes: 1. No sesame oil, so I used coconut oil and then threw in some pine nuts to get the nutty flavor. 2. I added Sriracha on the side. I’ll probably use some cayenne or harissa oil next time to kick up the heat.

  16. I like tofu, but only if it’s pressed, then frozen, then thawed and baked, then added to a dish. Waaaay too much trouble! I much prefer tempeh, and feel it’s a much better choice, since it’s not treated with chemicals as tofu can be.

  17. Wow, just made this because I LOVE tempeh and Brussels sprouts. This is DELICIOUS!! I too was concerned the the sprouts wouldn’t cook all the way through, (they were in the larger size), but they cooked up perfectly. I will DEFINITELY be making this again; I LOVE it!!

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