Tempeh tacos are a great way to eat a meaty taco without adding any meat. If you’ve never tasted them and you are open-minded, I think you will be pleasantly surprised. If you are a doubter, I encourage you to give them a try. To me, they are more filling than meat tacos, so keep that in mind when deciding how many to make. I was able to finish one and a half, and didn’t finish my side of beans. The best thing is, never once will you feel as though you are eating soy.
Tempeh is a fermented soybean product that has a nutty flavor, unlike tofu which is fairly tasteless. It’s texture makes it easy to crumble, and therefore it is a natural stand-in for ground beef. High in protein at over 15 grams per serving, it also has a decent amount of fiber in each bite. Another difference between tempeh and tofu is that tofu is highly processed into an undefined white block, while the soybean is still visible in tempeh.
Using my old favorite, El Pato Sauce, and some beloved spices, I made this tempeh into a delicious taco meat, and though it takes two skillets, it’s a meal that can be made in a half an hour or less. I made a simple guacamole, almost a cheat, and I used canned pinto beans on the side because I didn’t have any fresh beans made. I did lightly fry the organic corn tortillas in coconut oil because dietician Debbie West also told me that when eating a vegetarian diet, I had to increase my fats in order to keep my weight down. It defies logic, I know, but when I tried doing it, it worked.
(makes 8 tacos)
2 organic gluten-free corn tortillas per person
1 package wheat-free gluten-free tempeh
1/2 can El Pato Sauce
1/3 cup organic vegetable broth
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp Mexican oregano
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp fennel seed
3 tbsp coconut oil for frying plus 1 tsp for tempeh (should fry 6-8 tortillas, use more if frying more)
4 green onions, finely chopped
2-3 tomatillos, chopped
shredded lettuce (I used red leaf)
1 tbsp Mexican 4 cheese blend per taco
1 15-16 oz can pinto beans
1/2 tsp cinnamon (if making refried beans)
1 additional tsp minced garlic
1. Place the coconut oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Once it melts, fry each corn tortilla lightly on each side. It will start to bubble and puff slightly, but don’t let them get crispy. Place each tortilla on top of a paper towel to absorb the excess oil. You will have to turn the tortillas over to remove the oil from both sides. You may need to add extra oil to the pan if you are making . Before the tortillas cool completely, fold each one in half. Do this as you go, now once they are all fried.
2. Add the cinnamon to the oil while it’s still hot. Pour the can of pinto beans with the juice into the skillet. Simmer until the beans are bubbling. Once they bubble, mash them so that most of the beans are broken, but not until they are perfectly smooth. Turn off the flame and let them sit.
3. In another non-stick skillet, place a teaspoon of coconut oil in the center over medium heat. Crumble the tempeh into the skillet. Add the El Pato, the vegetable broth and the spices. Stir frequently as the tempeh cooks. After approximately five minutes, the liquid should be reduced greatly. Add the red onion and cilantro. Continue to cook, stirring frequently for another 2-3 minutes.
4. Scoop the meat of two avocados into a serving bowl. With a fork, mash the avocado. You can make the guacamole any way you like, but for a quick and dirty cheater’s version, pour 2 tsp. El Pato Sauce and 1 tsp garlic salt into the bowl and combine. Add some chopped green onion and cilantro if desired.
5. Fill the crease of each tortilla with tempeh, then cheese (if desired), then avocado. Top with green onions, more cilantro and fresh chopped tomatillos. Serve 1 or 2 tacos on a plate with a side of beans. Enjoy this satisfying meatless meal! I can’t wait to have them again.
Notes: If you are eating vegan, omit the cheese.
This recipe uses more processed foods than I normally eat. If you are highly gluten-sensitive or celiac, please verify my research on these products with the companies, or buy products you know are certified gluten-free.
You may have heard lost of scary things about soy products lately, such as they can cause thyroid imbalances and that all soy is genetically modified. I used Westsoy Tempeh, which is certified non-GMO vegan fermented soy. Debbie West, M.S.R.D., confirmed that soy is not going to cause problems for people with healthy thyroids, but may be best avoided by those that suffer from thyroid issues. It contains no wheat or gluten, but I checked their website and they offer a 5-grain tempeh which does contain wheat, so if you are celiac or extremely sensitive, you would have to contact the company directly to confirm the possibility of cross-contamination.
Turtle Island Foods does certify that their tempeh is gluten-free
Mi Rancho Organic Corn Tortillas are labeled gluten-free.
El Pato Brand Sauce is produced by Walker Foods, and they state on their website that all of their products have been gluten free since they’ve been making them. In the case of El Pato, the year was 1914.