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Veggie & Tempeh Sloppy Joes + Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Tempeh

Veggie & Tempeh Sloppy Joes Recipe

Veggie & Tempeh Sloppy Joes
Last week I wrote a post about tofu for tofu haters. Today, I’m going to tackle another tricky vegetarian protein: tempeh.

I promise you, tempeh is not that strange of an ingredient. Really! Even my small town grocery store sells tempeh. Like tofu, tempeh is a starting point, not a finished product–if you buy it, cook it, and eat it as-is, you’re probably going to think, “Ew, I don’t like tempeh.”

Tempeh in Package

What is tempeh?

Tempeh is a slab of fermented soybeans. Because it’s made with whole soybeans, it’s less processed than tofu. It has a mild nutty flavor and a firm texture. If the softness of tofu puts you off, try tempeh.

My tempeh looks moldy!

Black or white mold on tempeh is normal and perfectly fine to eat.

Tempeh Slab

Fermented soybeans? Mold? You want me to eat this?

I know, I know. It doesn’t sound very appetizing, does it? But so many foods that we eat are fermented or contain (good) mold. Don’t let that scare you away from trying tempeh!

What kind of tempeh should I buy?

You’ll find that there are several different types of tempeh at the store: regular or soy tempeh, tempeh with flax seeds added, multi-grain tempeh, and flavored tempeh. The flavored tempeh is great, but for most recipes, you’ll want to pick one of the first three varieties. They’re pretty much interchangeable, with the difference being that the flax and multi-grain kind have flax and grains added to the soybeans.

Crumbled Tempeh

So I bought it. What do I do with it?

Like tofu, I like to sauce up my tempeh because I’m not crazy about the flavor on its own. Thinly slice it, marinate it in just about any sauce for an hour or two, and then saute it in a skillet with a small amount of oil or cooking spray. I like doing this with barbecue sauce and making barbecue tempeh sandwiches.

My other favorite thing to do with tempeh is to crumble it up and use it as a substitute for ground beef. Those frozen ground beef substitutes are so processed and they don’t taste very good either. Tempeh is a much healthier option. Use your hands to break it up and brown it in a skillet with a little bit of oil, just like you would with ground beef. Add it to jarred pasta sauce for vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognese or use it to make tacos–so many possibilities!

Veggie & Tempeh Sloppy Joes in Skillet
These Veggie & Tempeh Sloppy Joes are the perfect example of tempeh being used in place of ground beef. Crumbled tempeh gives the Sloppy Joes a texture similar to ground beef and the sauce obscures any tempeh flavor that picky eaters might not like. I’ve added some fresh summer veggies to up the nutritional value of these sandwiches a little bit too.

Veggie & Tempeh Sloppy Joes

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 6

Serving Size: 1 sandwich

Veggie & Tempeh Sloppy Joes

Tempeh and fresh summer vegetables replace ground beef in this easy vegetarian Sloppy Joe recipe. Adapted from Rachael Ray's Super Sloppy Joes.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 16 oz. tempeh, crumbled
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 ear of corn, removed from cob (or 1/2 c. frozen corn)
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce or tamari
  • 1-15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 rolls, sliced in half

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in crumbled tempeh and cook 2 minutes more. Add sugar, garlic powder, and cayenne and stir for 1 minute.
  2. Reduce heat to medium. Add bell pepper, zucchini, corn, red wine vinegar and soy sauce to skillet; cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, salt, and pepper and cook 3-4 minutes more, until vegetables are softened, continuing to stir constantly. Spoon onto rolls to serve.
https://ohmyveggies.com/recipe-veggie-tempeh-sloppy-joes-how-to-use-tempeh/

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94 Comments

  • Reply
    Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell
    August 27, 2012 at 7:49 am

    I think sloppy joes would be the perfect way to try it for the first time, but I must admit that if it needs flavor or sauce to cover it up…I’m not sure I really need to be eating it to begin with. lol!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 28, 2012 at 1:16 pm

      Well, a lot of people like the flavor of tempeh, but I’m not crazy about it. See, I told you, I’m a picky eater too!

  • Reply
    Anele @ Success Along the Weigh
    August 27, 2012 at 8:23 am

    Hmm, any food I have to be told the mold is okay to eat is probably not going on my shopping list anytime soon. *laughing* But I’d eat it if someone else made something with it. Wanna come cook?

  • Reply
    Brian @ A Thought For Food
    August 27, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Wow… it’s been a while since I cooked tempeh, but you make this look so darn delicious! Also, not sure the last time I had a sloppy joe (since you can’t find veggie ones normally). Fantastic!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 28, 2012 at 1:14 pm

      I’m a sucker for childhood favorites made vegetarian. And it’s hard to do because I don’t eat most meat substitutes, but tempeh works well!

  • Reply
    Sheri
    August 27, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    I’ve never had Tempeh, and I’m not sure I want to try it, although your recipe looks really good!

  • Reply
    shelly (cookies and cups)
    August 27, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    I haven’t ever cooked using tempeh. I have to admit that on it’s own it looks a little scary, but in that sloppy joe it looks perfect!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 28, 2012 at 1:13 pm

      Yeah, when I was editing those photos I thought to myself, “Okay, after seeing these, no one is going to want to eat tempeh.” But it’s good! I swear!

  • Reply
    Diane {Created by Diane}
    August 27, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    looks like a great NEW sloppy joe, my kids have been asking me to make them…this looks like the way to go ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    August 27, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    This looks truly enticing, but I think I need to go back and read the tofu for tofu haters post first. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m a skeptic…

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 28, 2012 at 1:09 pm

      It’s all about how it’s prepared! Really! And I say this as someone who’s not a fan of most tofu.

  • Reply
    [email protected]'s Recipes
    August 27, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    It has been AGES since I last had tempeh! Your sloppy joe looks lipsmacking!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 28, 2012 at 1:08 pm

      Well go out and get some! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Reply
    Jackie @ Domestic Fits
    August 27, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    I would eat anything that you served with Old Rasputin. And, did you know Dodger Stadium serves a vegan Sloppy Joe Called the Sloppy Jane with Tempeh? It’s pretty good. But I’m sure they don’t post the recipe! I love this meatless option.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 28, 2012 at 1:08 pm

      Okay, usually I am the one who chooses alcoholic beverages based on what the label looks like (“Ooh, there’s a bird on this bottle of wine! It must be good!”), but when I needed stout for a recipe, my husband insisted on Old Rasputin and it was 100% because of the creepy Rasputin on the bottle.

  • Reply
    Alison
    August 27, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Thanks for this! I always wanted to know more about this tempeh that everyone talks about!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 28, 2012 at 1:05 pm

      I’m trying to do more posts like this–I’ve been vegetarian for so long that sometimes I forget that a lot of people might not know some of the ingredients I cook with!

  • Reply
    HilLesha
    August 27, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    Super yummy!

  • Reply
    Dee @ Cocktails with Mom
    August 27, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Seriously.. I have never heard of tempeh before. I have been learning so much about foods from your blog.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 28, 2012 at 1:04 pm

      Tempeh isn’t as common as tofu, but it’s definitely popping up in more & more places!

  • Reply
    Notorious Spinks
    August 27, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    This looks good. I’d love to try in tacos.

  • Reply
    Brenda Williams
    August 27, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    I am enjoying these educational lessons on veggie items. Never heard of so many of the things you are sharing with us. Photos are really beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Natalie
    August 27, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    I remember when my older sister first became a vegetarian and my dad searched all over town for tempeh and used liquid smoke to make tempeh bacon for her. Nobody knew what we were talking about at any store when we asked for tempeh, it was so frustrating! I think it’s a little more widely available now, but I’ve never tried it myself. You make it look really good though!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 28, 2012 at 12:57 pm

      Yup, not too long ago you couldn’t find tempeh anywhere except Whole Foods! When we moved here, I thought for sure we’d have to drive 30 minutes to the city to get it, so imagine my surprise when I found that our grocery store carried it!

  • Reply
    [email protected] eco friendly homemaking
    August 27, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    We just started using this a while back so I am glad you shared this recipe. It looks really good!!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 28, 2012 at 12:54 pm

      Thank you! Just about any recipe using ground beef will work with crumbled tempeh, but I’m partial to Sloppy Joes. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Richa
    August 27, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    this is a great post:) i didnt like the tempeh texture when i tried it first, but now have figured out the ways i like it. these sloppy joes look perfect to add to my tempeh recipe collection!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 28, 2012 at 12:53 pm

      I definitely enjoy the texture of tempeh more than tofu, but I find that tempeh has a flavor that I’m not crazy about on its own. It needs to soak up some sauce first!

  • Reply
    Alaine @ My GF & DF Living
    August 28, 2012 at 12:30 am

    I have never tried tempeh but this recipe makes me want to! I will have to swing by Whole Foods since I haven’t seen it in our chain grocery stores yet. This looks so, so good!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 28, 2012 at 12:47 pm

      It’s like tofu in that the taste totally depends on what you add to it and how you cook it. I hope you like it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Heidi @ Food Doodles
    August 28, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Yummy! Sadly, my small town grocery store doesn’t carry tempeh, but I’m keep looking for it every time I travel fairly close to home so I can bring some back with me. I haven’t found any yet but I’m still looking. Can’t wait to try it out!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 29, 2012 at 7:21 pm

      Have you ever tried making your own tempeh? I’ve heard of people doing that, but I’m too lazy to try it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Emily
    August 28, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    I wonder if I could get The Texan to eat these. I’m not a big fan of sloppy joes (1 – I don’t eat meat. 2 – I hate when the bread gets soggy!), so he’d know that I was up to something.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 29, 2012 at 7:16 pm

      Well, the good thing about these is that they’re not very saucy. So no soggy bread! Well, I guess it could get a little soggy. But not gross soggy. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    This American Bite
    August 28, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Thank you for inspiring me! I have included this recipe in my August Roundup. Please stop by and let me know what you think of the post.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 29, 2012 at 7:15 pm

      Thanks–I will check it out!

  • Reply
    Rikki
    August 28, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    I’m learning so much about vegetarian foods from you and it’s awesome. I’ve never really been exposed to any of this and it’s so much fun to learn all about it. And I’m in for anything with sloppy joes in the title!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 29, 2012 at 7:15 pm

      Yay, I’m glad to hear that! I used to work on the assumption that people would know these things or be bored reading about them, but I had a few people ask me to write more informational posts about vegetarian food, so I’m trying to do that. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Shirley
    August 29, 2012 at 2:30 am

    I honestly had no idea what tempeh was, aside from sometimes being a meat substitute. Never seen it up close before, and I admit the mold thing scares me. lol Thanks for the intro though … might take me time to warm up to the idea.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 29, 2012 at 7:07 pm

      Maybe I should have left out the part about the mold. I may have done more harm than good. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Reply
        Shirley
        August 29, 2012 at 8:36 pm

        No, you were honest and educational! I’ll just have to think of it like cheese.

  • Reply
    Genevieve
    August 29, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Another informative post for people who are scared of tempeh, like me haha….This recipe looks really good, and I think the crumbled tempeh coated in sauce might be a better option, rather than eating it in blocks or pieces. I’ve also read that steaming it first helps gets rid of the ‘funky’ smell, so I used that method the one time I cooked with it! I did enjoy it that time, so I should give it another try!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 29, 2012 at 7:04 pm

      You’re scared of tempeh?! I don’t believe it! ๐Ÿ™‚ I actually never noticed tempeh having a smell. But I’ve heard about steaming it beforehand too–I think I’ve made a few recipes that called for that.

      • Reply
        Genevieve
        August 29, 2012 at 9:27 pm

        Haha…mostly because I’m not too familiar with it – but if someone else prepared a delicious meal using tempeh, I would gladly try it!

  • Reply
    Lisa | With Style and Grace
    August 29, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    I didn’t grow up eating sloppy joes – my family ate really clean, so I missed out on a lot of childhood classics. My husband was asking for them a while ago so I started to think about how to make them healthy. This veggie version sounds GREAT!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 29, 2012 at 7:00 pm

      Oh, I loved sloppy joes when I was a kid! I grew up eating casseroles made with canned soups and potato chips and I find myself constantly trying to recreate things like that in a healthy way.

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