BrokeAss Gourmet

BrokeAss Gourmet

Tempeh Bacon

  • Prep Time 5 minutes
  • Cook Time 22-25 minutes
  • Estimated Cost $6.50

They say there's nothing like falling in love for the first time; the excitement, the magic of connection, the rush of hormones--when you've never felt it before, it overtakes you, like liquor on the lips of someone who's never been drunk. 

I remember the first time it happened to me, as a seventeen-year-old at a retreat for a Jewish teen program. In the Marin Headlands, just above the Golden Gate Bridge, I went wandering down a sandy beach in the dark with a boy I'd only recently met, but for whom I felt a shock of electricity the moment he said hello. We'd snuck away from the other teenagers in our group, and were attempting to find a moment alone to talk, unsure of what it would bring (neither of us knew what we were doing), but compelled by the fluttering we were feeling in our bellies. Without understanding how or why, I knew he was someone I would be getting to know a lot better very soon.

Our first kiss didn't happen until later that night, in the dormitory bunk where our group was staying, and when it did, it intoxicated me instantly. In the days and weeks that followed, I could think of nothing other than when I could kiss him next. I was a cliche of an infatuated teenager, but in that moment on the beach, I was changed. I had tasted the zing of intense mutual desire, and I liked it.

Of course, we were children, and so, like most high school love stories, ours eventually died a sad but predictable death. We moved on with our lives, went to college, started our careers, met other people, and fell out of touch. Sixteen years after that night, I got engaged to my person at Cavallo Point, less than a mile away from that beach.

Recently, as Evan and I prepare for this next step, I've been taking something of a mental inventory of my romantic history--a sort of internal tidying and boxing up. Of course I had other relationships between that first one and this, my last; many that lasted awhile, and even one that seemed to have had a chance at permanency. Still, the memories that remain the clearest and most significant are of the first. I'm pretty sure this is because the first time imprints you in a way that can never really be replicated. The first cut is the deepest, as they say, but so is the first kiss. The first touch. The first time a boy tells you he loves you. And though the imprinting experience is intense in and of itself, I think its real purpose is to prepare you for what more is to come.

Because now, when I drive by the Golden Gate Bridge and see the exit sign for the Marin Headlands, I think instead about Evan and our recent engagement. Though the whisper of that first taste of love remains a sweet memory, it is quieter now. 

On a seemingly separate but definitely related note, I want to talk about tempeh.

I first tried tempeh right after moving to San Francisco at age 24. A Greek food stand in my neighborhood served traditional Greek gyros with lamb, and for vegetarians, as I was at the time, tempeh gyros. Tempeh is like tofu in that it is a protein source made from soy beans, but that's about where the similarities end. Where tofu is uniform in flavor, tempeh is fermented and tangy--and full of nooks and crannies that get crispy when cooked. It takes on the flavors of whatever you add to it, unlike tofu, which tends to just swim around in sauce.

I ordered a tempeh gyro, wrapped in pillowy fresh pita, topped with creamy yogurt tzaziki, cubed cucumbers and tomatoes, and the thinnest slivers of red onion. I had intended to eat it in my new apartment, but it smelled so good, and was so warm in the bag, that on my walk home, I found a bench and dug in. It was unbelievable. Somehow, the crunch and flavor of this soy product stood up to lots of yogurt and juicy vegetables. It was dense yet tender, and rife with umami flavor. I was in love. 

I cooked it myself several times immediately afterward, and it took some time to figure out how to make it as crispy as it was in that phenomenal gyro. Eventually I figured out the secret: plenty of oil and medium-low, consistent heat. Today, I like to crisp strips of it, spiced with paprika, smoked salt, brown sugar, and black pepper, in the oven and serve it alongside scrambled eggs, like bacon. Of course, you would never confuse it with real bacon (if you're looking for something like that, try my Mushroom Bacon), but it's smoky and crispy and utterly delicious in its own right.

I like this multi-grain tempeh from Trader Joe's. It contains barley and millet, along with the soy. If you're gluten-free, look for something without grains.

Smoked sea salt brown sugar, black pepper, and paprika impart smoky sweetness.

It bakes in a relatively low oven (350) for about 25 minutes on a foil-lined baking sheet, until really crispy. 

And then I platter it up.

That gyro all those years ago was my first taste of tempeh love--my imprint. This bacon is my love letter to it.


  • 1 teaspoon smoked sea salt $2 (see headnote)
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar Pantry
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika $2 for 1 ounce
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper Pantry
  • 1 8-ounce package tempeh, cut into long, thin strips, about 1/8" thick $2.50
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil Pantry


Recipe Serves 2-3


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set aside.
  3. Combine the smoked salt, brown sugar, paprika, and pepper in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.
  4. Put the tempeh slices in a rimmed dish, like a pie plate, and drizzle the oil all over, using your hands to ensure each strip is coated lightly.
  5. Wash and dry your hands, and sprinkle the spice mixture all over the oiled tempeh strips, making sure they are evenly coated.
  6. Arrange the coated strips on the prepared baking sheet with a little bit of space between them.
  7. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until brown and very crispy.
  8. Let cool slightly, then serve warm.

Kale Salad with Figs

  • Prep Time 10 minutes
  • Estimated Cost 10.50

Welp, I started planning a wedding.

My wedding, to be clear. To Evan, my official taste-tester, fashion consultant, and number-one dude.

We've been working hard to get the big stuff figured out. So far we have a wonderful wedding planner (Ali DiLuvio), a date (next summer), a venue (a gorgeous winery in the Sonoma Valley), a caterer (Park Avenue in Cotati) , a rabbi (who also happens to be a long-time close friend of Evan), a photographer (Jennifer Bagwell), and a cake (Patisserie Angelica). There's still so, so much to do. And man, there have been a lot of decisions to make. 

What are the colors? 

How many people?

Which people? (Oh good, an opportunity to divide the people I love into ranked lists. That's not stressful at all.)

Standing chuppah or individual poles?

Do we really need flowers? We're getting married outside. Doesn't that basically count as one big flower? (My mother has informed me that I am incorrect about this, and yes we do need flowers.)

Buffet, individual plating, or family-style food?

Other desserts besides cake?

Father-daughter dance?

Mother-son dance?

How many toasts?

How many horas?

DJ or live band? 


Do we need to register? We basically have all the stuff we need already. (The feedback on that one has been a resounding "YES, unless you want 25 toasters.")

And so many more. 

But it's all good. We know we've already answered the most important question: yes, we want to marry each other. More than anything.

With all those details to consider, all those vendor meetings and Pinterest-stalking (OMG, so many mason jars), I'm trying my best to keep things as normal as possible around here. That means date nights where wedding planning talk is not allowed, stress-reducing cardio, focusing on all our work projects, and eating healthy, seasonal food. 

Today, I'm talking about kale. My favorite kind, Tuscan (dinosaur) kale, de-ribbed.

Sliced up into thin slaw-like strips.

Tossed with a simple vinaigrette--nothing more than good extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

And topped with sliced fresh figs, chopped almonds, and some creamy clumps of goat cheese.

Now the only decision I have to make is whether or not to drink wine with my salad.


  • 1 bunch Tuscan (dinosaur/Lacinato) kale, de-ribbed and sliced thinly $2 
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil Pantry
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar Pantry
  • a pinch of salt Pantry
  • 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese $3.50 for 8 ounces
  • 1/8 cup chopped toasted almonds $1.50 in the bulk section
  • 6 ripe figs, sliced into quarters $3.50 for a basket
  • pepper to taste Pantry

Recipe Serves 3-4


  1. Place the kale leaves in a large salad bowl.
  2. Whisk together the olive oil and vinegar and set aside.
  3. Sprinkle the salt all over the kale and gently rub it in (this helps break down the tough leaves).
  4. Drizzle with the dressing and toss well.
  5. Top the salad with the goat cheese, almonds, figs and black pepper to taste.

Rainbow Fruit Salad

  • Prep Time 10 minutes
  • Estimated Cost $13.00

I woke up this morning to the beautiful news that the Supreme Court of the United States had officially declared marriage is indeed a right for all.

All day long I have been weeping tears of gladness, my heart bursting with joy that my future children will be born in a land that legally recognizes all love as being equal.

That they will have the right to marry whomever they choose, no matter which state they live in.

That they will look at me with confusion and probably horror when I tell them that, not so long ago, marriage wasn't legal for everyone. 

And that my wedding will take place in a country that recognizes all marriage as being legal and meaningful.

I've been meaning to tell you: a couple of weeks ago, Evan and I got engaged. 

We had been talking about it for a long time. We were both ready--respectively, and as a couple.

I have never loved another person as much as I love Evan, nor have I ever been this sure about anything. I've never been someone who yearned for marriage in general, but I know with all my heart that I want to marry him. And I'm going to.

Every person deserves to have that option. 

To celebrate this joyous day (which also happens to be the start of Pride weekend in San Francisco!), I made fruit salad. 

Early summer produce is looking especially ripe and juicy these days.

It made the most beautiful rainbow.

The beauty of fruit is that there are so many options to get this symbolic color combination. Raspberries could replace the strawberries, orange slices could be swapped in for the apricots, yellow peaches could stand in for the bananas, kiwis could take over for the mint, and blackberries or boysenberries could fill in the bottom of the rainbow.

These fruits could also be baked into a tart, perhaps a goat cheese one, or served as part of a cheese platter.

However you make your rainbow, I hope it brings you a taste of the love and sweetness I am feeling. Today is a truly joyous day. 

Happy Pride!


  • 8 strawberries, ends removed, sliced $3.50 for a pint
  • 5 apricots, pitted, sliced $0.50
  • 2 bananas, peeled and sliced $1
  • 1 handful fresh mint leaves $0.50
  • 20-25 blueberries $4 for a pint
  • 1 sliced Black Mission fig $3.50 for a pint

Recipe Serves 3-4


  1. Arrange fruits in a rainbow shape on one large platter or on 4 individual platters in this order: strawberries, apricots, bananas, mint, blueberries, fig. 
  2. Serve on its own, or add a drizzle of honey, whipped cream, yogurt, or vanilla ice cream.

Green Chile Burgers

  • Prep Time 10 minutes
  • Cook Time 8 minutes
  • Estimated Cost $8

One of the coolest things about being a blogger is that companies send you all kinds of cool stuff. I have a strict policy that I won't write about something unless I think it's really, actually cool (I don't want to suggest you try something unless I genuinely like it), so I find myself saying "no, thanks," a lot. Meal replacement bars? Sorry, I don't write about that here. Prepared salad dressing? Pretty sure I have belligerantly railed against such preservative-filled grossness in the past. No thank you. Microwaveable frozen dishes? This is a recipe blog and I feel confident that nobody wants to read about how I used a fork to poke holes in plastic wrap and waited 4 1/2 minutes to eat some re-heated frozen lasagna.

But every now and then a company reaches out and I am reminded of how awesome this aspect of blogging is. One such email was from none other than the Tourism Department of the City of Santa Fe. They were wondering if I might like some free green Hatch chilies to cook with?

Why yes. Yes, I would

I actually first fell in love with green Hatch chilies in 2012, when Evan and I spent a romantic week in New Mexico. They're medium-spicy with just hint of sweetness, and they get roasted to bring out a lovely smoky flavor. They can be found in every New Mexican restaurant, especially in omnipresent green chile stew. 

Also popular in New Mexico is the green chile burger, often topped with cheese. There are several variations of it, some including bacon, pickled jalapeños, and caramelized onions. I'm a big fan, so I decided to make my own version

Instead of topping the burger with green chiles, I found that infusing the meat with chopped Hatch chilies, a healthy dose of garlic, and a little red onion was the best way to get intense flavor throughout the burger (and it also means that you don't have to worry about toppings slipping off or squishing out and overloading the bun). 

If, of course, you can't get Hatch chiies where you live, any other roasted green medium-heat pepper will work just fine. You can even make this with canned roasted jalapeños. Lucky me though, I had the real thing.

I kept my meat mix simple, so as to really focus on the chile flavor. Just a little garlic, onions, salt and pepper got added to the ground beef.

I like my burger patties on the round, thick end of the spectrum for maximum juiciness, rather than flat and thin. Go with whatever you like.

This was our first grill night of the season. The smells and sounds were unbelievable

After about 4 minutes, I gave them a flip.

And served them topped with some homemade guacamole, alongside some oven sweet potato fries and kale salad with a perky apple cider vinaigrette.

Hello there, grill season. I am so, so ready for you.  


  • 3 large roasted green chiles (preferably Hatch), chopped (1/2 cup, with seeds) $3
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red onion (about 1/8 medium onion) $0.50 for a whole onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped Pantry
  • 1 pound ground beef (80/20 or 85/15) $4.50
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt Pantry
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper Pantry
  • fresh guacamole Optional

Recipe Serves 4


  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Form into 1/4 pound patties (I prefer them round and thick as opposed to flat and thin).
  3. Lightly grease a grill or cast iron pan and heat to medium-high.
  4. Grill for 4-5 minutes per side until slightly charred on the outside and cooked mostly through.
  5. Serve topped with the guacamole if using, either plain or on a toasted bun.

Watermelon Salad Pizza

  • Prep Time 20 minutes
  • Estimated Cost $9.50

Watermelon feta salad is a favorite of mine. It may see weird to the uninitiated to combine creamy, salty feta cheese with juicy, sweet melon, but the stark contrast of the flavors works phenomenally well together. Just as watermelon is balanced gorgeously when served with savory grilled steak, the tang of the crumbled feta, plus some bright lemon juice for good measure and a good glug-glug of fruity extra virgin olive oil turns this classic summer snack into a positively savory salad. 

Even better, it's pretty fun to eat. 

It all starts with a seedless watermelon. You really only need half of one for this recipe, but I usually buy them whole anyway, since they're such a tasty, healthy snack to have on hand. Look for a spherical melon with a dark green rind (and make sure it's seedless--seeds are no fun to deal with in this preparation). 

This is a salad for 4 people, and each person gets his or her own "pizza," so slice the melon into 4 rounds (or more, obviously--this recipe is very easy to scale up or down).

Next, we turn our watermeolon rounds into "pizzas." This happens magically, by slicing each one into 6 triangular slices and placing it on a plate. See? It's basically a pizza.

Then a light layer of thinly sliced red onions gets scattered over each slice. Feel free to go extra-light on the onions if you're not a fan.

Then do the same with that creamy, crumbled feta cheese. Remember to get every slice so each bite has a little of everything.

Next, some mint leaves, for freshness.


And finally a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil, some black pepper, and a tiny touch of salt. 

It's pizza time.

 OK, fine, It's watermelon salad pizza time.

Still pretty damn good. 


  • 1/2 medium seedless watermelon (7-8 inches in diameter, end removed) sliced into 4 1 1/2-thick rounds $3.50
  • 1/6 medium red onion, thinly sliced $0.50 for a whole onion
  • 4 ounces creamy Greek, French, or Bulgarian feta cheese, crumbled $4
  • 1 handful fresh mint leaves $1 for a bunch
  • juice of 1/2 lemon $0.50 for a whole lemon
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil Pantry
  • freshly ground black pepper Pantry
  • salt Pantry

Recipe Serves 4


  1. Cut each watermelon round into 6 triangular slices, as if cutting a pizza.
  2. Arrange the slices in a circle on 4 dinner plates, so it looks like you have 4 pink pizzas.
  3. Top each "pizza" with the red onions, making sure to get some on each slice.
  4. Scatter the feta over each pizza, making sure it is is distributed evenly to each slice.
  5. Do the same with the mint, scatteing it over the slices, making sure there is at least one leaf on each slice.
  6. Drizzle the "pizzas" with the lemon juice and the olive oil.
  7. Top with cracked black pepper and the tiniest sprinkle of salt (the feta is quite salty, so it only needs the tiniest touch of salt).
  8. Serve immediately.