Last week New York City exploded into Springtime. About a month too early. The look on everyone’s faces was “Is this for real?” No one knew if this sunny, 70 degree weather would be over in a few days, or if Spring had really come early this year. Yesterday, we all found out. The forecast was cold and rainy. Just like New York to change it’s mind.
During the “heatwave” I picked up a ton of Spring veggies, and was wolfing down salads like it was my job. I was not prepared for the sudden cold rain that followed. My belly ached for a warm bowl of soup, yet the only thing in the fridge was baby spinach. Good thing I had a few ingredients stashed away for a rainy day. The thing I love most about this dish is that it is a one pot meal, and most of the ingredients can be stowed in the pantry. The only things I pulled from the refrigerator were the potatoes and cilantro.
For those of you who are new to tempeh, here’s the rundown. Tempeh is originally from Indonesia, and is made from crushed, fermented soybeans. Some compare it to tofu, but since it is made from the whole bean, not soymilk, it is much heartier and more flavorful. Don’t be afraid of the fermentation part. It actually makes tempeh easier to digest, and makes the nutrients more available to your body. If you can, go for the raw, unpasteurized stuff in the freezer section (here in NYC I found Barry’s Tempeh – locally made from NY state beans and grains), but if you can’t find it, the tempeh in the refrigerator section of your health food store will do the trick.
The inspiration for this dish comes from Heidi Swanson’s Tempeh Curry, and I believe she got the recipe from this cookbook. I switched out the cream for coconut milk, and adjusted the cooking times a bit to turn it into a lazy day stew. Since I wanted it to be pretty, I decided to puree the curry this time. But if you’re not feeling it, just skip that part and you’ll end up with a delicious, rustic stew.
Potato and Tempeh Curry
1 T ghee, butter or coconut oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
1 tsp. curry powder
scant 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1 15 oz. can crushed tomatoes (I like the fire-roasted ones)
1 c. water
3/4 c. coconut milk (preferably full fat)
1-1 1/2 lbs. waxy potatoes (I used 6 small yukon golds), cut into 1″ dice
8 oz. tempeh, cut into 1″ dice
a handful of chopped cilantro
Heat the ghee, butter or oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the salt, cumin, curry, red pepper and turmeric and stir to combine. When it smells amazing, tip in the tomatoes and water. Let it come to just barely a boil, then turn it down and add the coconut milk.
If you want a smooth sauce, turn off the heat and purée with a hand blender.
Add the potatoes, bring to a boil then turn down to low. Simmer, covered for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes start to soften. Add the tempeh to the pot and cook for another 10-15 minutes until both the potatoes and tempeh are tender. Transfer to serving bowl and top with cilantro.