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Terrific Tempeh for the Grill
by Tracy Mitchell Griggs

Don't you just love summer? BBQ fans are breaking out the hibachis, dusting off trusty Webers, and uncovering gas fired behemoths. Tis the season when the heavenly aroma of grilled foods fills the air and casual dining is the order of the day.

Fire-cooked food is as ancient as people but historically BBQ has been a meat eater's domain. With some creativity however, there is no need for non-meat eaters to feel left out when the mercury outside begins to rise. Tempeh is a perfect grill food and adapts well to most marinades, does not break apart easily, and is a good match for salads, and other vegetable accompaniments at picnics. Tempeh comes in different varieties including five or three-grain, and soy-rice. Chill the tempeh well before slicing it so it will be less apt to crumble once it hits the grill. Traditional condiments including catsup work well with grilled tempeh, but be creative. The grilled tempeh burger and sandwich recipe below should please the pickiest eater, and might also win a few non-vegan fans!

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Bon appetit!

Tempting Tempeh Burgers
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages soy tempeh
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy or tamari
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
  • Dash of ground cayenne
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 crusty good quality buns
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons spicy brown/Dijon mustard
  • 4 leaf lettuce leaves, use romaine, or for adults-peppery greens
  • 4 (1/4-inch thick) slices tomato
  • 4 (1/8-inch thick) slices Vidalia or other sweet onion
Split tempeh in half horizontally with a sharp knife; cut each piece in half crosswise. Place tempeh in a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag. Combine water and next 5 ingredients (water through garlic) in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Pour over tempeh; seal bag. Marinate in refrigerator 3 hours to overnight.

Prepare grill.

Place buns, cut sides down, on grill rack; grill 1 minute or until toasted. Remove tempeh from marinade, reserving marinade. Place tempeh on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned, basting frequently with reserved marinade. Spread ketchup and 1 mustard evenly over each bun top. Place 1 lettuce leaf on bottom half of each bun; top with 2 tempeh pieces, 1 tomato slice, 1 onion slice, and top half of bun.

Makes 4 servings

BBQ'd Tempeh Sandwiches with Peppers and Onions
Prepare the sauce and slice the vegetables and tempeh ahead of time.
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves-minced
  • 1 (8-ounce) package tempeh
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut in thick strips
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut in thick strips
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut in thick strips
  • 1 red onion or white onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 (1 1/2-ounce) good quality crusty buns
Prepare grill.

Combine first 9 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Cut tempeh in half lengthwise; cut slices in half. Brush tempeh slices, bell peppers, and onion with the ketchup mixture. Place on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until the tempeh is thoroughly heated. Remove the tempeh, bell peppers, and onion from grill. Cut bell peppers into 1/2-inch-wide strips; separate onions into rings.

Place 1 tempeh slice on bottom half of each bun. Top each tempeh slice with one-fourth of bell peppers, one-fourth of onion, and top half of bun.

Makes 4 servings

Chef Tracy Griggs is the owner/manager of Chefs to Go!, a vegan/vegetarian consulting company. A resident of Maryland's Eastern shore and Philadelphia, she teaches vegan cooking classes throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region. A freelance writer and a public relations and communications professional, her future plans include opening a vegan/vegetarian pizza restaurant. You can email Tracy at

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