Tempeh Salad With Miso-Dijon Dressing
Wednesday, 2 February 2011
In my recent quest to increase my iron intake, I have been eating a lot more meat. Now in addition, I am trying to increase my estrogen level, which my acupuncturist told me is a bit low. The first food that comes to mind when it comes to plant estrogen is soy, which is very high in phytoestrogens, and depending on what you read and your own circumstances that can either be a good thing or a bad thing. Lately, I have been avoiding most forms of soy due to recent evidence that soy isn’t as healthy as it is hyped up to be.
Most of the soy that Americans eat is highly processed and not easily digested. Yes, soy has been eaten by cultures for thousands of years, but never in the ways that are seen now. Today it is added to foods in forms such as “soy protein isolate” or “soy lecithin” or other derivative forms. This is not soy in it’s natural state and the human body doesn’t know what to do with it. Even moderately processed forms of soy like tofu (though some tofu can be highly processed) made from whole soybeans are difficult to digest. Soy in its natural state contains an anti-nutrient called phytic acid which inhibits digestion and absorption of nutrients. The cultures that have been preparing soy foods for thousands of years know that the best way to get the most nutritional and health benefits from soy is to ferment it. Traditional fermented soy foods include miso (fermented soybean paste), tempeh (fermented soybeans, often combined with rice), and natto (also fermented whole soybeans). Soy sauce is also fermented but it is highly processed and extremely high in sodium (plus it contains wheat and gluten!). These traditional fermented forms of soy are very healthy and the cultures used in them also have medicinal benefits, such as balancing the flora in your gut.
So I recently started cooking with Miso and discovered that it is delicious in a salad dressing. Tempeh, which comes in a block, can be prepared in a similar way to tofu. I love to just chop it up and saute it in a little sesame oil with a pinch of sea salt. I’ve used it to make wraps with teff tortillas, in stir-frys, and as shown here, on a salad. It is perfectly matched up with a little miso-dijon dressing, below. I love this tasty dressing so much I use it on most of my salads now, with or without the tempeh. You can find miso and tempeh in most health food stores or well-stocked grocery stores or Asian food stores, in the refrigerated section where they keep the tofu. And by the way, aren’t those the most beautiful watermelon radishes I found at the farmers’ market?
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp miso paste
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
Whisk all ingredients with a fork, toss with fresh salad greens. Works especially well with baby mustard greens or wild arugula. Makes enough dressing for 2 large salads.