You’d think that with summer here things would be a little more relaxed and we’d be able to get to the dinner table as a family a little more easily. I think this every summer. Yet somehow, it never quite works out that way.
This week for example: Monday was my “Meatless Monday Fail” day because of my hair appointment, Tuesday is my husband’s weekly visit to his brother’s house with the kids at dinner time (which doubles as “Mommy Time”), Wednesday was baseball practice again, and Thursday is the kids’ first baseball game which runs right from just before dinner, all the way until past their bed time. We’ve had no chance at dinner with the family.
So, out of sheer determination, I made ‘early dinner,’ because I refuse to continue to let the kids eat from the freezer all week long. Convenient, yes. Healthy, oh-my-groundhog no. That being said, dinner needed to be quick and easy so I could fit it in alongside a promised trip to the park, and the usual chores around the house of laundry, dishes, picking up, etc. So, the kiddos and hubby got marinated chicken breast on the grill, and my protein for the meal was marinated grilled tempeh.
Now, can I say a couple of things here about tempeh? When first checking out the idea of going vegetarian/vegan, I did some searching around for protein replacement. I’ve said my piece on soy, but honestly, it’s inevitable and I have it in moderation. When I searched for vegan and vegetarian recipes, tempeh kept coming up. Bacon-flavored tempeh, ham-flavored tempeh, teriyaki tempeh … reading up on some reviews, all these people claimed to just LOVE LOVE LOVE tempeh. Everything from how great the texture is, how versatile it is, to the loveliness of its flavor.
Can I be honest? So far, not that impressed. I mean, I’ve had it here and there and it’s not terrible, but aside from marinating and frying it or grilling it, what is there to this stuff? The texture makes me think of liver, and the flavor on its own is terrible. Thank goodness you can mask it with marinades. I dunno, to me, it’s not real food. It’s a filler. Sorry tempeh fans. To me, ‘good food’ is something whose flavors and texture you enjoy and highlight in a dish. Not something whose flavor you mask by killing it with marinades and cooking. Don’t get me wrong. I eat it. It’s protein, relatively healthful and not meat. That’s about where my thoughts on tempeh lie.
Not about to give up on it though. Hopefully one of my fellow vegetarian/vegan bloggers will pop up a recipe that wows me. My eyes are open for one!
Anyway, so, my dish that I do want to talk about and NOT slam is the Cool Couscous Salad. This is a dish we’ve had in the family for a while, and I love it. It started off as a recipe that I found online, but turned into my own over the years as I’ve adapted it to my own tastes. I basically add to the couscous the dressing (recipe below), and whatever vegetables I happen to have that I think will taste good. I always make sure there’s chickpeas in it, again for the protein and such, and this time I added fresh baby spinach and some of the portabella mushrooms I had left over from the Stroganoff dish I made. Stirred in some fresh chives from our garden and it was perfect.
By accident one night, I discovered that by cutting the lemon juice down to 1/4 cup (I just happened to not have enough) and using a 1/4 cup of lime juice, that the taste of the coriander in the dressing got a nice little boost. The dressing is really what makes this salad — it’s one of those that tastes even better the next day.
A nice, spiced summer salad that is awesome when prepared the night before and served chilled. It’s still delicious, though, served the same day. Makes excellent lunch the next day!
For added nutrition, I think I’ll try this with quinoa next time just to see how it would work. If you try that switch, let me know how it works for you!
In any event, we had a nice early dinner. I had my marinated, grilled tempeh (no recipe for that, it was just sliced tempeh marinated in one of my favorite bottled marinades and grilled), with the side of the couscous salad. Oh, and nuked frozen peas and carrots. No recipe for that, either, bahahaha.
So, what do you think of tempeh? If you love it, I’d love for you to share how you prepare it!
Cool Couscous Salad
1 box couscous
1 1/4 cups vegetable broth
1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans
4-5 cups fresh baby spinach, rinsed and rough-chopped
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 cup portabella mushrooms, cleaned and rough-chopped
1/3 cup minced, fresh chives
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup lime juice
4 garlic cloves (more or less to taste), minced or crushed
1 Tbsp whole-grain mustard
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp salt
Fresh cracked pepper to taste
1) Prepare the couscous according to package directions, replacing the water with vegetable broth. This just adds an extra flavor punch to the salad. When done, fluff with fork and place in large glass or other non-metal bowl.
2) Prepare vegetables and add to the couscous. Stir to evenly distribute the vegetables in the couscous.
3) Combine all of the ingredients for the dressing in a medium-sized non-metal bowl. Stir with fork to blend all of the ingredients, then pour over the salad. Mix to evenly coat everything in the bowl. Let sit about an hour in the refrigerator to allow flavors to blend. If possible, this is a salad best made the day before, and is best served cold.