Disclaimer: I am not the kind of person who will eat something just because it’s good for me. This is not to say I have an unhealthy diet–far from it. But because I know that healthy food can also be flavorful, indulgent and decadent, I refuse to settle for less. I think we should be cautious of the notion that we should be using food as a means of penance. Frankly, the idea of perfunctorily filling my tummy with austere yet virtuous calories makes me a little sad, and I see no reason why healthy food shouldn’t be able to inspire the same enthusiasm as a plate of brownies, if it’s treated with some measure of creativity. This means no uninspiring salads or apologetic carrot sticks.
On that note, after a long week of being sick with a cold, I wanted nothing more than to devour a plate of vegetables–not guiltily, but with a desire for vitamin-rich, soul-restoring goodness. So I threw together this roasted broccoli and tempeh salad. Broccoli is full of vitamin D and fiber, and tempeh is a low-fat, protein-packed meat substitute. Not to mention, the roasted garlic has cold-fighting properties (don’t tell me if this is an old wives’ tale, because I don’t want to know) and walnuts are packed with vitamin E and phenols.
The salad gets by on those credentials alone, but it’s delicious to boot and if you omit the parmesan cheese garnish, it’s even vegan-friendly.
To start, turn the oven to 450, put a medium-sized saucepan filled with water on the stove to boil, and cut two heads of broccoli into florets. Don’t cut off too much of the stems–they roast well.
Broccoli has been my favorite vegetable since I was a small child. I understand that I am a freak, but please, for my sake, give broccoli a chance.
Next, peel and slice four cloves of garlic. Be sure to not mince or crush the garlic, or it will burn quickly.
Place broccoli on a sheet pan and sprinkle with garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and toss, then sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, tossing halfway through the cooking process. Broccoli may blacken in areas–this is a good thing! By the way, this is almost always my method of choice for making broccoli. Simple, yet amazing.
Meanwhile, slice 4 oz of tempeh as shown. Once the water on the stove is boiling, lower temperature to medium-low and add tempeh. Simmer for 8 minutes. This does not cook the tempeh, which is technically a ready-to-eat product, but it takes away its bitter edge and makes it more palatable and tender. Once tempeh is done, drain and set aside.
While tempeh is boiling, make a quick marinade: 1 tbl maple syrup, 1 tbl olive oil, ¾ tsp cumin, 2 tbl soy sauce, ¼ tsp black pepper and ¼ tsp salt.
Place drained, slightly cooled tempeh on a plate and drizzle with marinade. Let sit for a few minutes, turning halfway through. I understand that it looks pretty objectionable at this point, but bear with me.
While tempeh is marinating, coarsely chop ¼ cup walnuts, place in an oven-safe pan and roast for about five minutes, tossing halfway through. The nuts can roast alongside the broccoli at the same temperature. Once nuts smell toasty and are starting to brown, remove from oven and set aside. Any kind of nuts would be tasty here–try slivered almonds, cashews or pine nuts, but be sure to look up roasting methods for each nut so you don’t end up with a burned pile of sadness.
Next, heat a large skillet at medium heat for a few minutes, then arrange tempeh in a single layer and cook, turning halfway through until browned and crisp on either side. After turning, pour remaining marinade over tempeh. It will thicken slightly and create a maple-soy glaze of sorts.
Once broccoli is done cooking, remove from oven and squeeze lemon juice over the top.
Finally, assemble the salad: broccoli on the bottom, then tempeh, topped with walnuts and a sprinkling of finely grated parmesan cheese (optional) and an extra squeeze of lemon juice for good measure. Then devour the whole thing yourself and take on the world.