Foods We Love: Tempeh


When it comes to getting a healthy source of protein without a lot of cooking, you can easily whip together a fresh tempeh salad. Tempeh, the nutty-tasting, crunchy soy cake, is one of the finest protein sources around, bringing 31 grams per cup, as well as 24 percent of your Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of iron, and 18% RDA of calcium.

Tempeh originated in what is now Indonesia, most probably on the island of Java, whose inhabitants developed a series of fermented foods. This began possibly a thousand years ago, though certainly by the 19th century, with the earliest confirmed reference being from 1875. Tempeh was first commercially produced in Europe in the mid-20th century, around the same time it was introduced in the United States.

Tempeh also served as an important food during World War II. A Dutchman known as Roelofsen was a prisoner of war in a Japanese camp in Indonesia, where many Europeans did not have enough food. He turned the soybeans into tempeh, and did nutritional studies on it after his release. He found that even prisoners of war suffering from dysentery, who could not digest whole, cooked soybeans, were able to handle the tempeh, because of the fermentation process.

This recipe for a Vegan Tempeh Salad comes to us courtesy of

  • 16 ounces soy tempeh
  • 1/4 cup sweet pickle relish (I use Cascadian Farms organic sweet relish)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup raw sunflower seed
  • 1/4 cup finely diced green pepper
  • 1/4 cup scallion sliced into little rings, only the white and very light parts
  • 2 tablespoons tamari
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely minced fresh garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dry dill weed
  • 1 cup vegan mayonnaise 

And when you're all done, wipe away and spills with Seventh Generation 100% Recycled Paper Towels