My comfort food is middle eastern (or at least middle eastern-inspired) cuisine, like this delicious Lebanese tempeh and bell pepper rice bowl. That’s mostly because it brings back so many wonderful memories of my Lebanese mother and my favorite dishes that I grew up eating.
However, this aromatic dish is not traditional. And my mother would have never ever put tempeh into any of her Lebanese dishes. But all of the main flavors here – cinnamon, lemon, and mint — are exactly what she used and taught me how to cook with. I adore this delightful flavor trio.
- 2/3 cup uncooked long grain brown rice
- 8 ounces organic tempeh, cut into at least 16 cubes*
- 2 large bell peppers, any colors, cubed
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges, plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, divided
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts, pan-toasted
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
- Optional toppings: zhoug (see Notes below), plant-based tzatziki, or tahini sauce; mint leaves or sliced scallions; pan-toasted sliced almonds or more pine nuts; pomegranate arils
- In a medium saucepan, prepare rice according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss together the tempeh and bell peppers with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until evenly coated. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, the cinnamon, black pepper, and cumin and toss to combine.
- Meanwhile, heat a large deep skillet or wok over medium-high. Add the tempeh-pepper mixture and sauté until tempeh and peppers are browned (caramelized), about 8 minutes. Adjust seasoning.
- Stir the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, pine nuts, and chopped mint into the cooked rice.
- In a large serving bowl or three individual bowls, serve the tempeh and peppers over the rice. Squirt with the lemon wedges and garnish as desired.
*PREFER AN ALTERNATIVE TO TEMPEH? Try extra-firm organic tofu cubes, breaded plant-based chick’n nuggets, or mild Italian plant-based sausage “coins.”
WANT TO TOP YOUR BOWL WITH ZHOUG? Here’s how I generally make it. Blend together 2 cups packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, 2 large garlic cloves, 1 small jalapeno with seeds, 1 teaspoon sea salt, and several pinches of ground cardamom to taste, while drizzling in extra-virgin olive oil (at least 1/2 cup) until you reach desired consistency. You won’t use all of this zhoug for this Lebanese bowl – but you will want to use it regularly on other dishes!
- Serving Size: 1 bowl
- Calories: 480
- Sugar: 5g includes 0g added sugars
- Sodium: 790mg
- Fat: 22g
- Saturated Fat: 3.5g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 53g
- Fiber: 11g
- Protein: 20g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
Keywords: lebanese cuisine, tempeh, plant-based bowl, vegan bowl, vegetarian bowl, plant-based comfort, grain bowl