This recipe comes from Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet, and was actually the first vegan cook book I ever picked up. Coincidentally, I was looking through the vegan book section while two (gorgeous!) women were also talking about the same topic right next to me. I ended up asking for recommendations, and they pointed me to this book. For a new vegan is was a good choice. While the recipes sometimes contain slightly difficult to find items, they offer a unique taste that makes it worth while in the end. I also like how the first half of the book is about living a kind life, and the second half is all recipes. Alicia has some great perspectives and insights. Pick it up if you ever get a chance.
In the book it's called Tuna Salad Sandwich, which has absolutely nothing to do with tuna in my mind, but the salad part fits well. I suppose it was an attempted re-imagining of a past carnivorous favorite. Anyway, I will provided both the recipe that I used, and the one for the book. When I made this I owned the book, but ended up taking down the ingredients from a YouTube video I watched, which left a few things out. I have yet to try the full version, but if it's anything like the lesser version I had, it will be delicious! I found this recipe to be a great lunch, or quick dinner. While it does take a while to prepare, I make mine in advance and put it in an air tight container in the fridge. This allows me to quickly heat up and make a wrap in a hurry. I also bring it to work for lunch, leaving the tortilla separate in a ziplock bag.
1 package tempeh
1 red onion
1/4 umeboshi vinegar (I used a red wine vinegar I had on hand)
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/2 carrot, chopped
1/2 small cucumber, chopped
1/4 cup dill pickles, chopped (I used 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon Vegainaise (or make your own!)
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice (fresh or in my case bottled concentrate)
1 tablespoon capers
Additional Ingredients (from the book)
1/2 cup fresh or frozen and thawed peas
1/2 cup fresh or frozen and thawed corn
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
The first step will be to steam the tempeh. You will need a steamer basket over a small pot of boiling water. Make sure the water in at a roiling boil, then cut the tempeh in half and arrange on the basket (picture at the bottom). Allow it to steam for 20 minutes, then set aside to cool.
Next bring another small sauce pan of water to a boil. Add the onions for 15 seconds, allowing them to blanch. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a mixing bowl. Allow the pan to continue boiling. Mix the onions with vinegar thoroughly and let it marinate for 30 minutes. In my case, I believe I let it sit for a around 10 minutes. Continue blanching by adding the celery and carrots (corn and peans if using) for 10 seconds. You can blanch them one at a time, or separately by adding them to a new mixing bowl as they finish. In Alicia's recipe she blanches them separately.
Drain the marinated onions through a sieve or any available strainer, and rinse quickly under running water for just a few seconds. She recommends squeezing the excess liquid out of the onions. Add the onions to the mixing bowl containing the other vegetables. Cut the tempeh into small cubes. Add the tempeh, cucumber, pickles, Veganaise, mustard, lemon juice and dill (if using). Stir well and sprinkle with capers (and parsley if using). I put mine into a tortilla wrap.
What is tempeh? Well, the definition sounds rather unappealing, but I find tempeh to be an interesting and somewhat acquired taste that is great in certain dishes. "It's made by a naturally culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soy beans into a cake form," according to Wikipedia (Link). The process combines whole soy beans and finely chopped vegetables into brick like patty. It has almost a nutty flavor. I have even made TLTs, or grilled tempeh lettuce tomato sandwiches with Veganaise. Pretty decent indeed. Oh, and it originated from Indonesia.
What are capers? A caper as used in a Mediterranean dishes describes a the bud of a caper plant which has been pickled into small peas sized spheres. I don't personally like the taste on their own, but combined in the right dish they provide a sort of bitter taste, sort of like the contrast in taste that olives make in a pizza. (Link)