This meal started with a big bunch of coriander. I figured Viva Vegan! could give me some tips on how to use it, so I flicked around and developed a three-recipe plan (it really is a great book for mixing and matching).
Recipe one is sofrito, basically a big pot of diced green capsicum and onion cooked down until it collapses into a sweet, still-chunky sauce. Terry Hope Romero mentions that it can handle a whole lot of coriander. It's a solid hour's chopping and cooking, so I got it going on the weekend and hoped I could handle the rest on a worknight.
Recipes two and three divide the sofrito batch neatly between them. Two thirds gets mixed into rice with beans, tomatoes and spices and then baked. It's a clever, low-maintenance way to prepare a whole meal in a single tray and offers plenty of time for making some bonus saucy tempeh.
The tempeh was quite the bonus, indeed! A little tamari and red wine vinegar livens it up, while the remainder of the sofrito and some cherry tomatoes smother the tender nutty cutlets in gentle sweetness. It's bona fide comfort food, without a potato or a pinch of flour in sight.
Sofrito con cilantro
(from Terry Hope Romero's Viva Vegan!)
1/2 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
900g green capsicum, finely chopped
900g onion, diced
2 cups coriander leaves, roughly chopped
salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the garlic, capsicum, onion, salt and pepper. Stir the vegetables over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, then lower the heat and stir more occasionally. When the vegetables are soft and becoming mushy, at least 20 further minutes, stir in the coriander and cook for a further 10 minutes. Cool the sofrito to room temperature and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Saucy sofrito tempeh
(adapted very slightly from Terry Hope Romero's Viva Vegan!)
2 tablespoons tamari
1/3 quantity sofrito con cilantro (see above)
generous handful cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup vegetable stock
Slice the tempeh into thirds, then through the centre to get six thin rectangles. Steam the tempeh for 10 minutes. When they're done, transfer it the tempeh pieces to a shallow dish and sprinkle the tamari over both sides of them.
Heat a generous glug of oil in a frypan. Fry the tempeh for around 5 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Set the tempeh aside and keep the frypan on the heat. Pour the sofrito into the frypan and add the tomatoes, vinegar and cumin. Stir occasionally, cooking until the tomatoes soften, 6-8 minutes. Place the tempeh pieces back into the pan, smothering them in the sauce; pour over the stock. Cook for a further 5 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed or evaporated but the tempeh is still saucy.