Spicy Buffalo Tempeh Salad

by Holly on June 27, 2011

in dinner,gluten-free,rambling,recipes

It all started with an innocent-looking buffalo chicken wrap.

On a sunny Thursday several short weeks ago, I was having a major white girl problem. I needed a kombucha…like, bad. So when 11:45am came around, and I could no longer deny my vicious craving for that yummy mushroom bacteria drink, off I went to Madison’s newest food cart, Good Food, which happens to be the only seller of kombucha within the greater Capitol Square area.

It was immediately upon my arrival that I saw it on the menu: a locally-raised, organic Buffalo Chicken Ranch Wrap. I ordered my raspberry kombucha and tried to deny my obvious lust for such a delicious-sounding midday meal, but something deep in my Everythingtarian gut told me that I needed that wrap.

I bought it and devoured its messy deliciousness in approximately three minutes.

A mere five days later, the craving struck again.

This time, it was a massive buffalo chicken sandwich from The Tipsy Cow on a Tuesday night. And again on a Friday. And Saturday. Suddenly, everything was coming up buffalo! Just last night, it was spicy Gardein buffalo wings. With celery. And blue cheese dressing for dipping. But those two things were both givens, no?

For almost a month now, my foodie thoughts have been all-consumed with getting one more drippy lick of that spicy, it-hurts-so-bad-but-tastes-so-good lip-burning buffalo sauce.

Out of nowhere, it seems I’ve become a spicy gal.

But wait! I swear my favorite food is ice cream! It even says so on my About Me page.

And my second favorite food is French toast! Slathered in maple syrup, preferably. Maybe with some sweet fruit compote and a light dusting of powdered sugar?

Listen to me, I’ve always been a sweets gal!

Scones. Candy. Cookies. Macaroons. Muffins. Cupcakes. Just roll me in sugar, fry me up real nice in a vat of oil, and I’ll do a happy sugar-fueled dance for you.

And tempeh?

Why is tempeh showing up on this blog? Don’t you remember I wrote a whole post on how I can’t stand this fermented soybean product that looks more like vacuum-packed brains than actual edible food stuffs? I don’t care if it is easier for my stomach to digest or a good source of vegan protein, get the tempeh off my screen!

What is going on here?!?


Okay, that’s better. We’ve got buffalo sauce. There’s cherry tomatoes. I can surely get down with those sweet, round orbs I like to refer to as nature’s candy. And onion. Onion is always a cooking staple. Mild jalapeños? Well, in the midst of my spicy obsession, I’ve started to eat those tongue-tingling nuggets straight out of the jar. And of course, I always love me some Wisconsin Cheese.

And since I am hoping to lose some fun chub, let’s put it all on a salad for good measure?

Ya know, to eat those nutritious things called vegetables?

Spicy Buffalo Tempeh Salad with Wisconsin Blue Cheese

1 T canola oil
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 (8-oz.) package tempeh
1/2 cup, plus 4 T prepared buffalo wing sauce
8 cups baby spinach
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup pickled jalapeños
8 ribs of celery, cut into approximately 16, 4-inch sticks
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup sunflower seeds

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, add the oil and onion. Cook until onions are just translucent. Add the crumbled tempeh and cook, stirring occasionally, until tempeh is lightly browned. Add 1/2 cup of the buffalo sauce, and cook until mixture is heated.

On a large plate, layer 2 cups baby spinach, 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes, 2 T pickled jalapeños, 4 sticks of celery, 2 T blue cheese, 1 T of sunflower seeds and drizzle with 1 T reserved buffalo wing sauce. Enjoy!

Makes 4 servings

This salad is so good, I devoured it for lunch today and thought about how all the flavors mingled in a spicy tango dance on my tongue all afternoon. Then, I decided there was no other possible option than to have it for dinner tonight as well.

If all goes according to plan, I will enjoy this slice of spicy salad heaven again tomorrow for lunch AND dinner.

Pass the buffalo sauce.

Tell me, tell me: sweet or spicy? Sharing is caring!


hippierunner June 27, 2011 at 9:01 pm

I’m more into sweets! I’ll take it over spicy any day. It’s why I always save room for dessert!

Karis' Kitchen June 27, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Love it, vacuum-packed brains is by far the best description I’ve ever heard for tempeh!

dana @ my little celebration June 27, 2011 at 9:13 pm

If I HAD to choose, sweets. But I’m a spicy girl, too ;D.

Jess June 27, 2011 at 9:18 pm

How about sweet AND spicy!? Haha, I prefer sweet if I hadddd to choose ;)

Jessica June 27, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Two things:
1. Last year Good Food was over by my old job. I ate there all the time. The thai chicken wrap was my fave.
2. This recipe gives me hope for tempeh. When I did my vegan challenge I tried it and had know idea how to prepare it. I made a horrific sandwich.

Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga June 27, 2011 at 9:28 pm

That tempeh salad looks AMAZING!! I love cherry tomatoes and your photography is stunning!

“how I can’t stand this fermented soybean product that looks more like vacuum-packed brains than actual edible food stuffs?”– LOL and I kinda feel the same.

Interesting that you love komboucha, a fermented bev but were resistant to tempeh. I guess you finally came full fermentation circle.

SWEET all the way. Just posted this question over the weekend, sweet vs salty/savory/spicy.

Gillian June 27, 2011 at 9:36 pm

I would do anything for a bite of that salad right now. I live for anything bbq, spicy, and a bit tangy. Lately sriracha is my homeboy but I think I need some buffalo sauce immediately!!

Amy B @ Second City Randomness June 27, 2011 at 9:40 pm

More often than not, I’ll go for sweet over spicy.

However, I feel that buffalo sauce should not be included in this argument. Because I’d never turn it down.

That salad looks fab. However, I’m not a blue cheese person. Megan and I just had a conversation today analyzing the likes and dislikes of it. Weird coincidence.

Must mean that you need to come visit. Yep. That’s the way my head thinks.

steve June 27, 2011 at 9:52 pm

I actually know the owner of Good Food Card fairly well – she’s a stellar cook and an outstanding person; glad to hear she’s doing well and that folks are visiting the cart!

I like both sweet and spicy; I can eat spicy more often as it’s less bad for my waistline, but if there were some spicy wings and a Greenbush donut sitting side-by-side, I’d go medieval on that donut (and any other donuts, cookies, cake, cupcakes, or peanut M&Ms that may be in the immediate vicinity)…

For those that like sriracha, go to Willy Street Co-Op and get Sambal Oelek from Huy Fong Foods. It’s a Thai chili paste with great heat and awesome flavor. It comes in a clear plastic jar with a green lid.

I use it on everything: eggs & toast, black beans, chicken – you name it. Great stuff. The Sushi chef at Willy Street West uses it in his spicy tuna sushi rather than mayo. Win!

sofia June 27, 2011 at 9:53 pm

stupid question: what’s the difference between buffalo and barbecue sauce? ’cause i’m currently having a love affair with the latter, and wanna know if you think that’s an acceptable recipe alteration. kthanks.

Mama Pea June 27, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Holy hell that looks good. My lips are burning just looking at that!

Aine @ Something to Chew Over June 28, 2011 at 5:27 am

I’m sweet AND spicy!

I love blue cheese on salad, great choice!

Lauren June 28, 2011 at 5:51 am

I am just like you, a sweets girl at heart. But I think my love for sweets is balanced out with a love for spicy as well. This salad looks INCREDIBLE!!! I’ve made buffalo tofu salads but not with tempeh. Love the idea.

Emily @ Relishments June 28, 2011 at 6:01 am

I love spicy stuff and buffalo wings are one of several foods that prevent me from going vegetarian. I’ve never made anything besides chicken with buffalo sauce–this salad looks amazing and I love tempeh. This is so happening in my house soon. Thank you!

Jecka June 28, 2011 at 6:27 am

I absolutely hate tempeh… but if you can be converted, maybe I can, too (with the help of this recipe)!

Sarah@The Flying ONION June 28, 2011 at 6:47 am

Mmm…this looks fabulous! I don’t know what’s coming over me, but I’ve been really into tempeh lately (despite, like you said, that it looks like brains in a package..haha!)

Kayli (Running on Sunshine) June 28, 2011 at 7:34 am

I’m definitely a sweets gal, but I also have a burning love for spice! I’m adding that salad to next week’s dinner rotation!

Claire June 28, 2011 at 9:37 am

Normally a sweet gal, but every few days, the savory craving pops up and is unstoppable. Generally, it’s always sweet breakfast, savory lunch, and then dinner is grab bag (depending on which craving is unstoppable that day…or minute…) and sometimes dinner ends up being 2 small meals: one savory and one sweet.

Lauren @ WWoB June 28, 2011 at 11:10 am

I love your sass. I chuckled out loud about 5 times this post. And to top it off – I dig the recipe. I recently have been craving meat substitutes and I am typically a REALMEATSNOB. What is happening?! And also, I am very much a sweets girl, but I have been dumping sriracha and tapatio on my food like its going out of style. What is going on with us?!

Hillary June 28, 2011 at 11:37 am

I’ve been toying with tofu, but tempeh still freaks me out (woah alliteration). This makes it look yummy, though!

I’m a sweets gal, through and through. However, I do love the occasional jolt of jalapeno. Buffalo cookies, perhaps? ; )

Megan (Braise the Roof) June 28, 2011 at 12:52 pm

I’m so happy that you’re on the buffalo bandwagon. I’ve never met something coated in buffalo sauce that I didn’t like. I even ate buffalo style oysters in New Orleans earlier this year and kinda liked them- which is shocking because I HATE oysters. Spicy 4 life. (I was gonna say “spicy balls 4 life”…and I just did. You’re welcome.)

KaraHadley June 28, 2011 at 1:19 pm

I used to be a sweets girl, but then I found sriracha. Then Texas Pete. Then crushed red pepper. I think my downfall came when I made cayenne dark chocolate-covered pretzels for Valentines Day last year.

julie June 28, 2011 at 7:03 pm

you never fail to always make me want and die for a drippy egggggggggggg

Katie June 28, 2011 at 10:11 pm

I’ve always been scared of making my own tempeh dish. This looks awesome, so I propose you come over and make it for me. Mmmkay?

Meister @ The Nervous Cook June 29, 2011 at 7:50 am

Savory wins in my belly, and so does tempeh! I’ve never made anything with Buffalo-wing sauce, but I do have a stack of tempeh chillin’ out on the fridge right now… hmm…

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