Tempeh Is The Plant-Based Solution To Boost Boring Jar Sauces

We've all had those days where we come home from work feeling a little hangry and need a quick meal. Such nights are the perfect time for store-bought jarred sauces. One of the easiest ways to boost the flavor and nutritional value of a jar of sauce also happens to be a plant-based food.

Some people think of tempeh as a type of tofu. However, tempeh is fermented, and while usually made from soybeans, it can be made from other cereal grains including oats, rye, barley, and corn. People in Indonesia ate Tempeh at least 300 years ago, though the exact origin is a mystery.

Tempeh has an earthy, umami taste, and depending on how it is prepared, it can have a chewy mouthfeel. As a plant-based protein source, it is hard to beat tempeh. Its proteins are made from amino acids — some our bodies can make and nine essential amino acids we cannot make. In comparison, animal proteins are complete proteins containing all the essential amino acids. Most vegetable proteins are considered incomplete, which is why combining vegetable proteins like beans and rice is a good idea, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Tempeh and whole soy are among the select group of plant-based complete proteins.

Due to its nutritional value, flavor, and versatility, adding tempeh is also a great way to boost a pre-made jar of sauce.

A few easy ways to add tempeh to your sauce

Vegan chef Linda Soper-Kolton told Insider that she likes to add ground or crumbled tempeh to a sauce. She described the mouthfeel as satisfying enough for both meat lovers and vegans. Simply simmer it in a little water and soy sauce then drain before adding it to your sauce.

For a vegan bolognese alternative, try browning onions, mushrooms, and garlic with crushed tempeh and adding the mix to a jarred tomato sauce. If you have a little more time, you could try making tempeh meatless balls as an alternative to meatballs. After all, who can resist healthy and tasty comfort food?

Tempeh also works well added to pre-made curry sauces or really just about any jar of sauce you have on hand. If you want to honor tempeh's Indonesian roots, you could follow Alton Brown's example and try adding it to a tamarind-based sauce. Since it comes in small cakes, you can easily slice it or grind some in your food processor depending on the texture you want.