Tempeh with Rice and Spinach

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: About 40 minutes, largely unattended

Lemon zest and juice makes this a brightly flavored onepot dish. It’s also great for picnics and patio parties because you can serve it at room temperature.

2 lemons

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

8 ounces (about 2 cups) crumbled tempeh

2 tablespoons minced garlic

Hot red pepper flakes or cayenne, to taste

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup any white long-grain rice

1 pound fresh spinach leaves, washed

Remove the zest from one of the lemons (see Lemons and Limes) and mince it. Squeeze the juice from both lemons and reserve it.

Put the oil in a deep pot with a lid over medium-high heat. When hot, add the tempeh and cook, stirring frequently and scraping up any browned bits, until it is deeply colored and crisp on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes.

Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes, minced lemon zest, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook and stir for a minute or so, then stir in the rice and toss to coat. Add enough water to the pot to cover the rice by an inch and bring to a boil. Then adjust the heat so the mixture boils steadily but not violently. When small craters appear, lower the heat a bit more and, when all visible moisture disappears this will be 10 to 15 minutes after you started put the spinach and the reserved lemon juice on top of the rice, cover the pot, and turn off the heat entirely. Leave undisturbed for at least 10 minutes and up to 20 or so. Fluff with a fork to combine and taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary, adding lots of black pepper. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Variations

Tempeh with Rice and Peas. Terrific texture and great with a splash of soy sauce: Omit the spinach and use 2 cups of peas instead (frozen are fine). Proceed with the recipe.

Tempeh with Rice and Mushrooms. Especially good with lots of parsley stirred in at the end: Omit the spinach and clean and slice 1 pound mushrooms (one kind or a combination). After cooking the tempeh in Step 2, add the mushrooms, and cook, stirring frequently, until they give off their liquid and start to get dry again. Then proceed with the recipe from Step 3, simply adding the lemon juice to the rice when it’s ready and covering the pot as directed.

Tempeh with Brown Rice and Spinach. You have two choices here; either one works for the main recipe or either of the variations: Follow the directions for substituting brown rice for white in the sidebar The Easy Way to Substitute Brown Rice for White or substitute brown rice for white and follow the recipe. In Step 3, when the pot comes to a boil, adjust the heat so the mixture simmers gently, and cover. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure the water is not evaporating too quickly (you can add a little more liquid if necessary). When the liquid has been absorbed, taste and see if the rice is tender or nearly so. If it is, proceed. If not, add about 1/2 cup more liquid and continue to cook, covered, until it is, another 5 minutes or so. Then add the spinach and lemon juice and proceed with the recipe.