Tempeh Lettuce Tomato Sandwiches

Summer is officially over at the Autumnal Equinox, but we can all still feel the warmth in the air.

Thankfully, I still received tomatoes from my neighbor’s garden and in our share last week from Stoneledge Farm . . . and I used those gorgeous tomatoes to make a spin on a BLT!


But tempeh?

How does tempeh taste like bacon?

Well, friends, tempeh is not bacon . . . but it brings up a good point to make.

We should stop pretending that vegetables are animal protein. Plant-based protein choices like beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, nuts and seeds do not taste like chicken. Don’t buy fake chicken nuggets made from processed soy. Buy real soy - like tempeh!

What is tempeh?

Tempeh is fermented soybeans (and often other grains). It comes in a package in the refrigerator section near the tofu at the grocery store.

Why is tempeh good for you?

Tempeh is:

  • Fermented: fermented foods are especially good for our bellies because they are rich in probiotics. Tempeh is also rich in pre-biotics, the fiber our gut bacteria eat!

  • Rich in complete plant-based protein: tempeh is made from soy, so it’s a complete protein (meaning it contains all the essential amino acids). Amazingly, 1 cup has 31g of protein! (For reference, 1 cup of chicken has 38g.) Hooray for plants!

  • Full of the right soy isoflavones: tempeh has the right ratio of daidzen : genestein isoflavones, making it an anti-inflammatory powerhouse in the body and useful for managing perimenopausal symptoms like hot flashes.

  • Great for bone health: whole organic soy like tempeh is full of calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous, which make it great for keeping us tall and strong as we age.

Buy organic soy

When buying whole soy products like tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy nuts or soy milk, buy organic. No one wants genetically modified soy in their bodies.

How to cook tempeh

I find tempeh to have an interesting flavor, like mushrooms. One way to decrease that flavor a little is to boil or steam it for 10-15 minutes before using.

Tempeh tastes GREAT with a good marinade. The last time I made this recipe, I had to prep the day before, so my tempeh soaked for 24 hours. It was EVEN BETTER!


A note on bread

You all know that I don’t love processed grains . . . but sometimes you just gotta live! I tried this recipe with both a collard green wrap (which was delightful!) and as a sandwich, and the sandwich clearly won out.

Not all bread is created equal. Some bread is a little easier on the digestion, like sourdough made at Flour Water Salt. Sourdough bread doesn’t have yeast, so many people who are sensitive to yeast do better with yeast-free bread. I also sincerely LOVE going to the Flour Water Salt storefront in Darien. Isn’t it great to shop local?

And now on to the main event - the sandwich!


Serves 4-6 adults

Tempeh marinade Ingredients

2 packages organic tempeh

1/3 cup organic soy sauce or tamari

1/3 cup maple syrup (grade B tastes the best!)

1/4 cup EVOO or avocado oil

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 tsp smoked paprika

Sandwich or wrap ingredients

Green lettuce

Ripe tomatoes



Crusty bread of your choice . . . or washed collard green leaves with large stems removed


1. Cut tempeh into 1/2 inch slices and boil or steam for 10 minutes.

2. Whisk marinade ingredients together. Place warm tempeh in a glass dish and pour marinade over warm tempeh.

3. Refrigerate marinated tempeh at least a few hours but up to a whole day or two (the longer the better!)

4. When ready to make sandwiches, bake tempeh in the oven at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, then turn over and bake an additional 5 minutes.

5. Assemble sandwiches or collard green wraps with tempeh, tomatoes, lettuce, avocado and mayonnaise.

Enjoy! (Even 2 year olds like my honorary nephew Henry love tempeh!)


RecipesKatie TakayasuComment