Tempeh Barbecue Salad with Pineapple and Portobello Mushrooms


Come September we Virginians tend to have an urge to slather everything in sight in BBQ.  It's an homage to Summer's end. For only a few more weeks will we have the glorious weather that makes barbeque so damn delicious. Ok, in Virginia, most of that BBQ ends up prancing along grilled pork or chicken breasts. And the fatty aspects of meat + the texture + the sugary sauce DO make for a good combo. That's why in this dish I have incorporate three different textural elements, good fats, and juicy Kansas BBQ. But why eat cute little piggies and (admittedly doofy) cluckers when you could get your protein and vitamins in a totally alternative & rock & roll way?

MUNCH ON THIS: Tempeh is the rock star of the soy world. Why? Tempeh is waaaaay high in protein, packed with B-Vitamins, highly digestible, and even has some anti-biotic qualities. Natives of Indonesia, where tempeh originated, are well aware of tempeh's anti-biotic effects and they consider it a great medicine to ward off dysentery.  Tempeh is also high in manganese and fiber. It has a nutty flavor, somewhere in between bread and fresh mushrooms. Some would call it bland. And... well... they would be right. BUT tempeh can be delish when cooked properly. There are a number of ways to cook tempeh, including simply sauteing it in some olive oil + maple syrup + cayenne and then dipping it in sauces like proteiny french fries. You can grill it, steam it, fry it, bake it, eat it "raw" with hummus, crumble it into salads, or throw it at your favorite vegan friend (they will be thankful, even if it hurts). I personally find that the best ways to prepare tempeh involve either steaming it before adding seasonings or marinating it in a salt water bath for 8 hours or more before cooking it. That way the seasonings/sauces are fully absorbed into the meat of the tempeh cake, soaking all the way through to the center.

In this recipe I chose to meld the nutty texture of tempeh with chunks of sweet, ripe pineapple and strips of succulent portobello mushrooms. I just couldn't resist the pineapple and mushrooms when I saw them at market. They were just SO BEAUTIFUL. Is it weird that I think food is the most exciting thing to photograph? I love it. And speaking of beautiful food photography you should check out this brain-mashingly amazing food blog: Sprouted Kitchen.  Their photographs make me want to be a better human being.

I also decided to go ahead and use a pre-prepped barbecue sauce. I know, it's kind of like cheating. But the Trader Joe's "Bold & Smokey Kansas City Style BBQ" sauce is so good and affordable that I just had to use it. And it works perfectly. Besides, making barbecue sauce is a project all on its own.

I do believe I have made this dish for dinner three times this week. The punchy/spicy arugula, sweet BBQ, and creamy avocado combo is heaven. Oh and BY THE BY your lover will love this saucy tangy sweet nutritious goodness. This is good messy picnic date food. It makes you look like a kitchen goddess (or god). Which, of course, you are!

Pineapple, Portobello, & Tempeh BBQ Salad

serves 8 


  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped finely

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or coconut oil)

  • 8 oz tempeh (1 package), cut into squares

  • 3/4 cup white wine

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1 medium ripe pineapple, peeled, cored, and chopped into 1 inch cubes.

  • 5 large portobello caps, sliced thickly

  • 2/3 cups Kansas City style BBQ sauce

  • 3 cups organic or wild arugula

  • 1 avocado, sliced lengthwise, to garnish


  1. On your stove top, heat a large sauce pan to medium heat. Once hot, pour about half of your olive oil into the pan. Toss in the garlic, and saute for 2 minutes or until fragrant and browning. Add tempeh, 1/2 cup of the white wine, sliced mushrooms, and 2 teaspoons of the salt. Cover and let steam for 15 minutes.

  2. When all of the liquids have evaporated, add BBQ sauce, remaining white wine, and pineapple chunks. Stir gently to incorporate the sauce. Cover and let cook for another 15 minutes.

  3. Remove the top from the sauce pan and let the mixture caramelize on medium-high heat. Add the rest of the olive oil to the pan, stirring gently every so often. Once the sauce has reduced and the tempeh & pineapple start to have some crisp bits, remove the pan from heat.

  4. In a large bowl, toss arugula with olive oil, a pinch of salt and black pepper. When ready to serve, pour the hot barbecue dish over the arugula. Arrange your avocado over the top of your dish. Serve hot.