Sweet Potato Marinara with Vegan Tempeh Black-Eyed Pea Balls

I promise the process of this lengthy recipe is well worth the effort.  Isa Chandra Moskowitz is the genius behind cookbooks I regularly chastise you for not owning.  Just buy them already.

At any rate, this recipe is adapted from her marinara recipe (there are like 8 of them in her book) and her “meatball” recipe. The good news is, this recipe makes A TON of “meatballs” and they can be successfully frozen and reheated without too many issues.  Just be sure to freeze them first, then bag them otherwise you will get mush (yes, I got mush once, so I’m saving you the trouble).  The recipe as written fed Mr. Wonderful and I dinner one night, lunch the next day and the other half was frozen for a quick dinner later in winter when we are hibernating; so it’s a ton of food.  Take note, you have been advised (and warned).

Tempeh Black-Eyed Pea Balls

  • 12 ounces of tempeh (1.5 packages)
  • 1 (15 oz) can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp of dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • Black Pepper (several pinches)
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1/4 tsp salt

First, steam your tempeh.  Frankly tempeh isn’t that appetizing unsteamed.  This is probably why you avoid using it, you had that one bad experience where you just used it straight from the package and it was gross.  Give tempeh another try-steam it before you use it.  Off soapbox, back to cooking.  If you have a steamer, great, use it.  If you don’t or, if you are like me, and have no idea how to use the steamer you have because you use it like once a year, forget it and grab a glass microwave safe dish.  For you steamer elitists, once the steamer is ready, break the tempeh into bite-size pieces, and steam for 10 minutes.  For you rugged folks, break tempeh into small hunks, drop it in the bowl/dish, cover with water and zap it on high for 5 minutes or so, then leave in there for another 5 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350, and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, use a fork to mash the beans. They should be well mashed, with no whole beans left, but not totally smooth, like a puree. Add the herbs, minced garlic, spices, soy sauce, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, and mix well.  Isa says don’t use a food processor here, but if you aren’t a total ass about it you can use it, just DO NOT PUREE the mixture or you will be sorry.  Remember at the end you are trying to achieve hamburger-like [gag] meatball consistency.

When the tempeh is done, add it to the mix, and mash well. It’s good if it’s still steaming, because it will help all the flavors meld, before baking. When the mix is cool enough to handle (a few minutes), add the bread crumbs and salt. Unlike raw cookie dough which is amazing out of the bowl, do not eat these before you bake them, they don’t taste that yummy.  They become delicious with the addition of heat.

Make “meatballs” using a 2 tsp of the mix, roll the mixture into walnut size balls, placing them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (I’ve said this twice, don’t forget the parchment paper).  Isa recommends to spray the balls liberally with cooking spray, and cover loosely with tinfoil. Bake for 15 minutes, flip the balls, and bake for 10 more minutes, uncovered.  I didn’t bother with the spray or the cover.  I baked them until they looked done, shook them once or twice while they were baking, then removed them before they were all dried up.  This is why I like cooking and not baking so much.  Lots more room for error.

So if you are still with me after all of that, marinara sauce coming your way next.

Basic Marinara

  • 1 tsp of olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp of dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (24 oz) can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
I also added: 
  • 1 tsp of red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups cremini mushrooms, washed, chopped and browned
  • 2 cups sweet potato, diced and steamed

Preheat a 2-quart pot over medium/low heat. Saute the mushrooms in the oil for until browned, add garlic and red pepper flakes into the oil, saute for about a minute-warning do not stand over the pan when you add the red pepper flakes unless you are wearing a gas mask.

Add thyme, oregano, and pepper, and saute for a minute more, adding a splash of water if necessary. Add the tomatoes, steamed sweet potatoes, salt, and stir to combine. Cover the pot, leaving a gap for steam to escape, and cook for 10 minutes. Salt if necessary.  This is ready to serve over pasta and “meatballs” above.

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2 responses to “Sweet Potato Marinara with Vegan Tempeh Black-Eyed Pea Balls

  1. I’ve never cooked with Tempeh before (not sure I know what it is!) so I’d like to try this! I’ll let u know how it turns out lol!

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    • This is a good first start then with Tempeh, the flavor is an acquired taste if you ask me, so putting it with other stuff first will be a goof first intro. Be sure to steam it first to get some of the bitter out 🙂 Good luck!

      Like

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