Friday recipe: tempeh cheeseburgers

L.V. Anderson, Slate assistant editor who edits its food and drink sections, has some definite ideas about food – often, as the title of Slate’s culture blog Brow Beat’s recipe column implies, “You’re Doing It Wrong,” that we’re preparing it incorrectly. In a recent post she sets us straight on preparing the perfect veggie burger. NO, she states acidly, not ones with the “suspiciously rubbery feel of those textured-vegetable-protein disks; the Gardenburger patties that look like coagulated oatmeal; mushy, homemade bean burgers that disintegrate the second you put them between the two halves of a bun.”

Photo: Juliana Jiménez Jaramillo for Slate

Instead, Anderson serves up her version of a “sturdy, savory and juicy” veggie burger. The key is marinated tempeh, the fermented soy product she calls “the closest thing vegetarians have to a non-weird meat substitute” and “absolutely the best ingredient for veggie burgers.” The largely bland product is great marinated, because “it soaks up other flavors like a sponge.” So put Anderson’s recipe to the test during these wonderful grilling days of September.

L.V. Anderson’s tempeh cheeseburgers
Yield: 4 burgers
Time: About 1 hour, largely unattended

  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 pound tempeh, cut into 4 equal squares
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
  • 6 hamburger buns, toasted if desired
  • Lettuce leaves, tomato slices, pickle slices, mayonnaise, mustard, and/or ketchup as desired

Heat the oven to 375°F. Whisk together the soy sauce, oil, shallot, garlic, honey, and thyme in a medium bowl. Put the tempeh pieces in a 9-inch square pan in a single layer and pour the marinade over them. Bake for 30 minutes, then turn the tempeh pieces over. Continue to bake until the tempeh has absorbed all the marinade, 20 to 30 more minutes.

Top the tempeh pieces with the cheddar and continue to bake until the cheese melts, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve the tempeh burgers on the hamburger buns with as much or as little lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayonnaise, mustard and/or ketchup as you like.


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