Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Tempeh Cheatballs in a Tomato Stew and random moments

This dish was born out of necessity.  I actually intended to try a zucchini slice with silken tofu.  I went to the supermarket for the ingredients but found the tub of silken tofu I remembered was actually the firm tofu I had already used for a batch of tofu bacon.  So I was left with tempeh and a need to rethink dinner.  (Yep.  No silken tofu counts as First World problems!)  Sylvia's friend had been at our place.  When her parents picked her up they invited Sylvia for pizza and a movie, freeing me up to focus on our dinner.

I took my inspiration from Tinned Tomatoes Vegan Sticky Red Onion and Sausage Bake with Gravy and from Milk and Honey Teriyaki Tofu Balls.  My final Tempeh Cheatballs in Tomato Stew bore little resemblance to either recipe.  I came across using Cheatballs instead of meatballs recently and it quite amused me.  I wasn't sure if I say tomato sauce or tomato stew but I felt with the addition of a few vegies, it looked more stew than sauce.

I really enjoyed this dish but could make improvements.  I think next time I might use a 700ml jar of tomato passata rather than a 400g tin of diced tomatoes for more sauce.  I don't think this is one of my favourite tempeh dishes.  I suspect I might like it better with tofu but would like experiment a bit more with doing these with tempeh.  I did love that it was pretty much a meal in a roasting dish.

We had it over a couple of night served over brown rice.  It was good in an earnestly healthy sort of way.  I also was scratching around for ideas for lunch and loved having it in a toasted sandwich with melted cheese and fresh spinach.  This was more fun.  So good that I would make this dish again just to stuff in a sandwich.  And I think vegan cheese like biocheese would work well here.  I would also like to try serving it over pasta.  They would also be excellent with tofu bacon.  I meant to try it but forgot.

And let me tell of some random moments that made me smile recently:
  • I had a dream recently of being served dinner in a restaurant.  I saw a movement on the serving plate.  With horror I realised it was crawling with witchety grubs (Aussie bush tucker).  I needed to tell them I was vegetarian.  The I realised I was at vegan restaurant Smith and Daughters.  I spent some time in my dream and when I awoke puzzling over how they could make vegan food move when they served it.
  • Sylvia is really into the Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries by Robin Stevens, which I am reading to her.  We have been enjoying reading them over the school holidays.  She wakes me up first thing in the morning asking me to read to her.  We are currently reading one called Arsenic for Tea.  When E was bringing it home from the library, she said to me "I hope dad brings Arsenic home".  Perhaps this is why in the USA, it has been renamed Poison is Not Polite.
  • We sauntered along to Coburg Carnivale on the weekend.  It had less of a community feel than previous Carnivales.  The highlight was the Little Wooden Caravan.  We were kindly squeezed in though it was almost booked up.  There were a series of puzzles, each leading us to a key to open a locked box with another clue.  It was great fun and I enjoyed that it included some of the photos of historic Coburg.

I hope to return to this dish and tweak it in future but Spring brings dwindling opportunities for oven bakes so for now I share what I did.  I am sending these cheatballs to Kimmy and Mary Ellen for Healthy Vegan Fridays, Jac for Meat Free Mondays and Cindy for Gluten Free Fridays.

More tempeh recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Chesapeake tempeh cakes (v)
Pumpkin and kale soup with tempeh crumbles (gf, v)
Tamarind Tempeh with Noodles (v)
Tempeh and corn soup (gf, v)
Tempeh and pumpkin lasagne (v)
Watercourse Foods tempeh burger (gf,v)

Tempeh Cheatballs in a Tomato Stew
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe
Serves about 6

Tomato Stew:
1-2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely sliced
400g tin diced tomatoes
1 carrot, sliced into batons
1 red capsicum, sliced into batons
1/4 cup tofu bacon marinade
good pinch of salt and pepper

Tempeh Cheatballs:
300g tempeh
3 tbsp besan
2 tbsp tofu bacon marinade
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves, chopped
200g chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 onion, finely chopped and fried
oil spray

Start on the Tomato Stew: Heat oil in a heavy based frypan and fry onions for about 20 to 30 minutes until soft but not melting.  I had my onions fried for the Cheatballs but if I hadn't I would fry an extra onion with the sliced onion and when they were done I would chop up a third of the fried onions for the Cheatballs.

While onions fry, squeeze moisture out of tempeh and crumble into mixing bowl.  Mix in besan, marinade, nutritional yeast flakes and spinach.  Blend chickpeas and fried onion and mix into the tempeh mixture.  Set aside while completing the Tomato Stew.

Meanwhile, microwave carrot batons in a covered dish with a little water for 30 minutes.  When onions are done (set aside some for the Cheatballs if required), tip in diced tomatoes, precooked carrots, capsicum, tofu marinade and seasoning to taste.  Simmer for about 5 minutes.

Pour tomato stew into a large roasting tin.  Shape heaped tablespoons cheatballs mixture into balls and dot in the tomato stew.  Spray the tops of cheatballs with oil spray.  Bake for 30-60 minutes until cheatballs brown.  (I served mine after 40 minutes and liked them but I liked them more the second night when they were baked again for 30 minutes.  If I had a grill or broiler in my oven I might grill them for 5 minutes at the end.)

On the Stereo:
50 the Golden Jubilee Album: The Seekers


  1. It's years since I had tempeh...... i was veggie for a number of years when I was younger and used to eat lots of it..... but it isn't something I can get very close to home and somewhere along the way, I had forgotten about it!
    Your 'cheat balls' sound lovely though..... maybe it's time to give the tempeh another try?!

    1. Thanks Kate - I don't have tempeh as much as I would like but make an effort to eat it as it is a great source of nutrients - a lot of veg*ns don't like it and I understand why as I think it can be really bad in some dishes

  2. I laughed at how this started as a concept for zucchini slice and turned into something quite different - although clearly equally good, even if you would make some changes in future. I like how versatile the balls seem to be. Your random moments made me smile too!

    1. Thanks Kari - life is like that sometimes but I could not believe I had just gone to the supermarket and missed a key ingredients - luckily I always have enough food to make a meal - just wish I always had enough inspiration and energy!

  3. Woah! These sound super delicious and so easy to make. I am really glad you were out of tofu as I think tempeh would be best - it would give it more texture and a good, earthy flavour.
    I'm not typically good at making balls, but I think I could make these.
    Your dream made me laugh. I had to look up witchety grubs though on Google Images and regretted it instantly. Ugh ;)
    "I hope dad brings Arsenic home" This made me laugh out loud and my husband asked me why I was laughing so I read that to him and it made us both laugh. And now we want to read the books for ourselves.

    1. Thanks Kimmy - sorry about the witchety grubs - hope I made up for it with the laugh at the arsenic comment :-) I really love the books - they are aimed at children but are very amusing

      I agree that tempeh has a bit more texture - interestingly after I made this recipe I saw that Isa Does it has a tempeh meatballs recipe

  4. that looks absolutely heavenly - that's just the sort of thing that I need now the weather switch has been thrown from summer to autumn over here. I've always found my cooking with tempeh fairly hit and miss, but the last time I made a tempeh stew, and it turned out pretty good, so I'm excited to give this a try!

    1. Thanks Joey - I really want to push myself a bit more with tempeh - so it is good when serendipity steps in :-) Enjoy your autumnal cooking

  5. This is such a great idea! Sometimes when I don't have the exact ingredients I need a new fun recipe emerges like yours did. :)

    The arsenic story make me laugh! I've always been into murder mysteries so I'm going to check those out!

    Thanks so much for linking up with us for Healthy Vegan Fridays! I’m Pinning and sharing!

    1. Thanks Mary-Ellen - I love a good murder mystery and it is really nice to see some intelligent ones being written for kids (though now Sylvia wants to know all the ways you could murder someone which is a little worrying!)

  6. What a great idea! I just adore Tempeh! Thanks for the great idea! If you like vegan friendly recipes check out a few I have over at
    I adore healthy living recipes!

    1. Thanks Amber - tempeh is great - check out my links above the recipe for some of my favourite tempeh recipes


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