Weeknight Cooking

Tempeh Kebabs with Homemade Barbecue Sauce

June 26, 2014

Every other Thursday, Gena Hamshaw of the blog Choosing Raw shares satisfying, flavorful recipes that also happen to be vegan.

Today: Tempeh gets its time to shine -- on the grill.

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In general, I prefer tempeh to tofu. It's nuttier, denser, and more filling; it has the texture and chew that tofu sometimes lacks. In spite of this, I tend to use tempeh in a limited number of ways: stir fries, "tempeh bacon," baked and marinated tempeh, and...that's about it. I'm much more likely to get creative with my tofu, and that's a shame, because it means that my favorite soy gets short-changed.

More: Are you team tofu or team tempeh? Read our protein primer -- and then decide.

I recently came to the realization that I'd never before grilled or barbecued tempeh. I'd done it with tofu countless times, and that was all well and good. But wouldn't the nutty and even slightly bitter taste of tempeh be a perfect complement to the sweetness of barbecue sauce? Wouldn't its sturdy texture hold up perfectly to grilling? Wouldn't its density and chew make it perfectly satisfying for all party guests and cookout attendees, vegetable-oriented and omnivore alike?

The answers are yes, yes, and yes. These kebabs are easy, delicious, and filling, and they're a perfect food for summer entertaining: more proof of the tremendous versatility and overall awesomeness of tempeh. Feel free to vary your vegetables based on what's local and in season, and if you're short on time, you can use your favorite store-bought barbecue sauce. If you don't have access to a grill, these will cook up beautifully in a grill pan. 

Temeph Kebabs with Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Serves 4

For the tempeh kebabs:

16 ounces tempeh (two 8-ounce packages), cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 large red bell pepper, deseeded and cut into 1 1/2 inch-squares
1 large zucchini, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 large white or yellow onion, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
8 ounces white mushrooms, washed and trimmed

For the barbecue sauce:

One 15-ounce can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 dash red pepper flakes

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom

Choosing RawGena's new book Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat is a thorough, relatable guide to incorporating raw and vegan foods into any diet. It's full of no-fuss recipes for every meal, which range from fully raw to mostly cooked, with plenty of snacks and desserts to keep everyone happy. 



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Any Night Grilling is your guide to becoming a charcoal champion (or getting in your grill-pan groove), any night of the week. With over 60 ways to fire up dinner—no long marinades or low-and-slow cook times in sight—this book is your go-to for freshly grilled meals in a flash.

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Gena is a registered dietitian, recipe developer, and food blogger. She's the author of three cookbooks, including Power Plates (2017) and Food52 Vegan (2015). She enjoys cooking vegetables, making bread, and challenging herself with vegan baking projects.