Summer, please don’t go
There’s been a dramatic shift in temperature up here in Happy Valley this past week. In the morning, I wake up to a definite chill in the air. I get ready for work, covered in goosebumps and start my commute, firmly convinced that fall is sneaking in. (I even turned the seat heat on in the car yesterday morning!).
Then I get to my office.
And I’m reassured that summer is still here. My desk is a little zone of hot stuffiness. We’re talking zero air-flow, my friends.
Then I come home, make dinner and sit down outside to dine. As the fork is en route to my mouth, I pause then set it down, run inside and pull out a sweatshirt from its forgotten home in the depths of the closet and return to sit outside. Andrew and I brave our way through dinner, both again covered in goosebumps. We finally call it quits, heading inside.
And I realize 2 things:
1) We have completely lost all our carefully built-up tolerance for the cold and returned to being complete wimps at the slightest drop in temperature (reeeeally makes me look forward to January…)
2) Summer has entered into its swan song and I better make the most of its simple pleasures while I still can. That means stubbornly wearing my flip-flops, leaving the windows open and blindly ignoring the fact that in a few short days a bajillion college students will move in and take over the town.
So, in the spirit of savoring the simple, here’s a dish built off some beautiful produce from our CSA box this week…oh, and tempeh…’cause I luuurve it.
Simple Tempeh with Swiss Chard & Beets
Serves 4 as main dish, more as a side dish
- 8-9 small to medium beets (golden, red, or both)
- 1 package tempeh
- 1 bunch Swiss chard (8-10 stems)
- 1 orange
- 1.5 tablespoons malt vinegar
- 5-6 tablespoons maple syrup
- olive oil
1. Trim ends of beets, clean, coat lightly in olive oil and wrap individually in aluminum foil (for more details, check out this post). Place in oven heated to 375 degrees and cook for ~ one hour and 15 minutes. Go do yoga, read a book, put away laundry (bleh) or watch Kitchen Nightmares on hulu.
2. Remove beets from oven and let cool for a bit until you can handle them without burning your fingers. Once they’ve cooled down, unwrap and using a knife, gently scrape off the skin. Chop beets into quarters (or sixths or eighths – really whatever fraction you feel like).
3. Prep chard by separating leaves from stems…
and then chopping leaves and stems separately. I usually stack the leaves together
then roll them up
and slice into ribbons:
Chop the stems into ~1 inch pieces.
4. Cut tempeh into cubes and place in small pot. Add enough water to cover the tempeh and bring to a gentle boil. Cook for ~ 8 minutes then drain.
5. While tempeh is cooking, lightly coat a pan with olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add chard stems and cook, stirring occasionally.
Add in the cooked tempeh, followed by the beets and chard leaves.
6. Mix together the malt vinegar and maple syrup and add to the mix. Squeeze the juice from one orange into the pan then reduce heat to just higher than medium low, cover and cook for 8-10 minutes; open occasionally to give it a stir, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
7. Plate up: Dress it up, dress it down, spin it around – this is one flexible dish. I enjoy the natural flavor of beets so I prefer to only season them mildly and instead let them take center stage. However, you could certainly start things off with garlic and onion before tossing in the chard and tempeh – that’s the beauty of cooking: every dish is entirely your own creation.
Results & Conclusions
Tangy malt vinegar balances out the sweetness of the beets and tempeh while the chard picks up the citrus of the orange.
This meal is subtle, simple and the perfect foundation for so many different meals: all by itself, served over a grain such as millet, rice or grits, or even chilled on a bed of salad greens.
Whichever way you choose, enjoy!