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Vegan Tempeh “Bacon”

Since adopting a pescatarian diet twenty years ago, there are a couple foods that I miss from my meat-eating days: a nice filet mignon cooked medium-rare, and bacon. The smell of cooking bacon has such a comfort-food feel, and the smoky, savory/sweet flavor adds a distinct taste to anything it’s combined with. This vegan version doesn’t really taste “meaty”, but the chew of the tempeh marinated in smoky/sweet seasonings and baked can definitely pack a punch of flavor. Plus, tempeh is a fermented food, which means it’s great for boosting the amount of ‘good’ bacteria (probiotics) in your gut! Probiotics have many proven health benefits including improved digestion, better immunity, and even increased weight loss.

I’ve used it today on my lighter version of a BLTA – avocado toast on Ezekiel bread, topped with tempeh “bacon”, tomatoes, arugula, and a little Field + Farmer Ranch Dressing drizzled on top. For the marinade, I used the ingredients listed below – but you could certainly adjust the seasonings based on your preferences.

Packaged tempeh is available at most grocery stores – just make sure to look for an organic brand, since soy crops are often sprayed with pesticides. I try to cut the tempeh into thin slices, just about 1/8-inch thick. You could also cut them into small cubes, so that the end result would more closely resemble the texture of pancetta.

The tempeh needs to sit in the marinade for just a few minutes before baking. I tried cooking tempeh in a pan in the past, and while the flavors were ok it was difficult to get the strips to cook evenly without burning. I found that baking get them evenly cooked, crispier, with less fuss.

After baking, cool the tempeh on a paper towel. The “bacon” strips can be refrigerated for about a week. Enjoy!!

Vegan Tempeh "Bacon"

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

This tasty 'bacon' can be used on sandwiches, part of a breakfast, or as a snack on its own! Made with fermented tempeh, it's also great for your gut health.

Ingredients

  • 1 8-oz. package of tempeh, cut into thin slices (~24-32)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. tamari (or soy sauce if not gluten free)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. avocado oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 3 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 3/4 tsp. habanero sauce (or other hot sauce of choice, optional)
  • 3/4 tsp. cumin
  • 3/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Cut the block of tempeh into thin strips (~1/8-inch thick - around 24-32 slices).
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients until well combined.
  4. Add the tempeh strips to the bowl, stirring carefully with a spatula until they are evenly coated.
  5. Spread the tempeh strips in one layer onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes per side, until slightly browned but not burned.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 103Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 266mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 6g

Nutritional information is an estimate and may vary per preparation.

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