Spring vegetables are what I have been craving for weeks. Because of my schedule, I haven't been able to cook on Mondays like I usually do, so today I jumped at the chance to try one of Heidi's new recipes from her cookbook that just came out, Super Natural Every Day. My husband gave me Super Natural Cooking for my birthday and we both loved the recipes I made from that one. This is another winner. From front to back, the book is filled with recipes that make you want to eat and instructs you step by step to the dish you knew you wanted, but didn't know was waiting for you behind a mere handful of ingredients.
I can't get enough of either asparagus or mushrooms. What I really want is to cook with morels, but until I stumble upon a stash of those in my backyard, supermarket varieties will have to do. Nothing tastes more green, more spring-like, than asparagus. The earthiness of the mushrooms and the grassy notes of the asparagus are my idea of the perfect pairing. And one of the reasons I love Heidi's recipes so much is that she lets them shine. When produce tastes this good, there's no point fussing with them too much. A quick toss with olive oil, a sprinkle of lemon zest and garlic and everything is turned out onto the plate and you are ready for dinner.
I've never worked with tempeh before. The recipe calls for seitan, which I've also never used before and the Raisin Rack was out of the latter. I grabbed the tempeh with wild rice and I have to say, I was pleased with the results. For being a fermented soy cake with whole soybeans incorporated with the rice, it tasted surprisingly earthy, kind of like a mushroom. It took on a lovely golden color when I cooked it with some olive oil and I might try cooking it with some soy sauce as the package suggested. I may never be a full vegetarian, but I love experimenting and trying something new like this. Heidi wisely recommends using a soy product for what it is in and of itself. If you try to just substitute tofu for meat, you're missing the point of utilizing it as an ingredient. Use it thoughtfully and in a way to make it taste as good as you can.
If meat is your thing (like it is for my dear husband) this dish is also perfect as a side. I browned and then roasted a pork tenderloin with garlic and thyme. It was a simple and flavorful preparation, which I thought would complement the vegetables. Together they were a perfect spring meal and I'll definitely be making this again.
slightly adapted from Super Natural Every Day
Extra-virgin olive oil
6 oz tempeh, patted dry and slice in strips
1/3 c. slivered almonds
1 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, quartered
8 oz. button mushrooms, quartered
1 bunch thin asparagus, in 1" lengths
3 cloves garlic, minced
zest of 1/2 lemon
Heat a swirl of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add tempeh and season with salt. Let cook 5 minutes to get a golden crust, then turn and add almonds to toast lightly. Cook tempeh until golden on second side, then slide everything out onto a plate.
Wipe out skillet and add butter, 1 T. oil and let heat until foam subsides. Add mushrooms, in batches if necessary, and stir to coat with oil. Let mushrooms cook until deeply golden, 2-3 minutes. Stir to brown all over, then add asparagus and cook a minute or two. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until asparagus is crisp-tender. Remove from heat, add lemon zest, season to taste with salt. If desired, add tempeh and almonds back to skillet to reheat slightly. Serve tempeh and almonds on top of mushrooms and asparagus at once.