Thursday, April 11, 2013

Orange Marinated Tempeh with Collards and Grains

I'm sure by now everyone and their mother has read the New York Times opinion piece about how we're all (and by "all," I mean middle class folk) stuck in "the busy trap" - that is, scheduling our time with tasks and meetings and Things To Do, so we never have a spare moment in which to spontaneously appreciate the presence. I'm guilty of this, to an extend. On the one hand, I do indeed feel incredibly busy and daily lament the fact that I have no time to, for example, get a haircut, or read a book for pleasure, or go on a date with my husband. On the other hand, when I look at my life, try to figure out what I can trim away to free up some space, everything seems too essential. It's not like I can just skip class, or throw away those student papers instead of grading them, or tell the dogs, sorry, but I'm not walking or feeding you today, tough luck. The nature of my life at this moment, the life I have chosen, keeps me pretty busy. But it's also temporary - I won't always be in school, working two jobs, making not enough money (okay, I'll probably always be making not enough money, but I'm okay with that). One day, I will have less to do, and more time to live. For now, I'm busy and that's okay.

Which brings us to this recipe. I used to post recipes fairly often, but the last year has seen a sharp decline in my kitchen activities. Frozen vegan pizzas, frozen veggie burgers, fried eggs on toast, bowls of cereal, peanut butter and jelly. This is what we've been surviving on, and while it's not the world's worst diet, it could be better. I miss putzing around the kitchen, tinkering with spices and sauces, pulling homemade dinners and cookies and breads out of the oven, filling the house with mouthwatering scents. Thus a new goal: to cook something simple and delicious at least once a week, and to share the recipe here. Because if there's one thing I need to do more often, it's slow down, take a deep breath, sit at the table, and share a meal with the ones I love.

Orange Marinated Tempeh with Collards and Grains

You will need: 
1 block of tempeh 
1 bunch of collard greens
your favorite grain 

for the marinade: 
1/2 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp maple syrup
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped 

Put a small pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil. Meanwhile, chop the tempeh into thin strips. Add the tempeh to the boiling water, and leave it there for about 6-8 minutes. (I like to boil my tempeh because I feel like it mellows the natural flavor of the tempeh, and helps it absorb the marinade. But I could also be completely delusional.) While the tempeh is boiling, whisk together the ingredients for the marinade. 

Remove the tempeh from the boiling water and place it in a shallow baking dish. Pour the marinade over it and let it sit for an hour or so. Meanwhile, chop your greens up into thin strips. (I usually go with collards, mostly because I planted too many in my garden and I have to keep thinking of new ways to eat them. Also: very high in calcium!) 

After your hour is up, heat a nonstick pan over medium high heat and spray with olive oil. Remove the temeph from the baking dish with a slotted spoon, reserving the marinade. Fry that tempeh up until it's golden brown and crispy; remove from pan and place on a plate. 

Now, throw your collards greens into that same pot. Add a little water and cover it, so they begin to wilt. After a minute or two, pour the remaining marinade over the greens and let them cook until the marinade is dissolved and the greens are well done. Add the tempeh back to the pan and mix it up. Serve immediately over your favorite prepared grain. (I usually go with quinoa or brown rice, though this time I used a fancy harvest blend from Trader Joe's, which was pretty delicious.)