Smokey Lentil Tempeh Cups + Creamy BBQ Sauce

This recipe started off as a simple smokey bbq sauce and it quickly turned into a super fabulous protein packed lunch. 

The bbq sauce is really unique because it has cashews, which make it creamy. Remember my Queso Loco sauce? If you haven't made it yet, hop to it. It's like cheese crack. No joke. I make it so often that I can now almost do it with my eyes closed. You can guarantee there will always be a jar full of it in my fridge at all times. Once you get the hang of it, it's like so easy to whip up. 

Anyways {sorry for the tangent}, I used the same base for the bbq sauce but this time added sun dried tomatoes and liquid smoke. It's like a vegans dream come true - real smokey bbq taste without any charring involved or meat. 

Speaking of meat and charring, next up is the tempeh. It's so good. It comes already smokey and cooked. Have you tried it? It's like vegan bacon. 

The lentils as well come already steamed and ready to eat from Traders. Yay for Traders! But they aren't organic. Darn it {if you're listening Trader Joe, come on, let's get with the program}. I keep these on hand for quick dinners and lunches. I keep frozen rice on hand as well for the exact same reason. Sometimes you just gotta cut corners when you have kids, jobs and buys lifestyles. I would chose the handy dandy microwaves before I would go to drive thru Taco Bell. But that's just me. 

Just throw the already cooked lentils into the hot oiled pan that you cooked the tempeh in. Cook until warm. I added fresh mint and sea salt for added flavor. 

Once your have made your sauces and cooked up your proteins. You will want to layer the cabbage leaves {note: you can also use some sort of lettuce leaf if you'd prefer a softer shell}. I layered mine with some herbs and baby kale first. That's optional but oh so fresh and flavorful. 

bbqcups.jpg

Once you have layered your cups with all kinds of herbs, you will throw on some of the vegan homemade sour cream. Then, you will add the warm mint lentils followed by the lightly pan-fried tempeh. Lastly, the bbq sauce goes right on top along with whatever herbs you have left over. I'm a HUGE fan of fresh herbs and I keep them on hand always. My last house had an herb garden and I am working on growing some at my new house as well. They come in hand all day long - breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

The bbq sauce can be left on the side as well for dipping. It's so freakin' good you'll want to just put it in a cup and drink it {ok, maybe that's an exaggeration}. Seriously though, these taste like the entire thing had been charred on a bbq in the Summertime and then put in a really awesome smoker. 

SMOKEY LENTIL TEMPEH CUPS RECIPE

yields 4 large cabbage cups

BBQ SAUCE INGREDIENTS

yields 1 cup

1/2 cup cashews {raw or toasted or both}

1/4 cup water {or more depending on how thick you like it}

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice {just about 1 lemon, juiced}

2 Tbls cup nutritional yeast

2 Tbls sriracha sauce {start with one and add as you go, until spice is perfect for you}

1 Tbls instant better than bouillon veggie paste  

2 Tbls sun dried tomatoes, chopped

1 Tbls agave syrup or maple syrup

1 1/2 tsp liquid smoke

BBQ SAUCE DIRECTIONS

In a high speed blender, you'll want to add all of the above. Blend until it's completely smooth like a commercially bottled sauce. It will get there, just give it a few. Clean out the bowl and use it for the next sauce. 

TOFU SOUR CREAM INGREDIENTS

yields 1 1/2 - 2 cups

1/2 package medium tofu {7 ounces}

2 Tbls apple cider vinegar

1 heaping Tbls vegan mayo

1 tsp instant better than bouillon veggie paste  

1 tsp agave nectar

1/2 lemon, juiced

SOUR CREAM DIRECTIONS

In a high speed blend, add all of the above ingredients and blend on high {starting low and increasing to high speed} until creamy and throughly blended. 

SMOKEY TEMPEH INGREDIENTS

1 package smokey bacon tempeh

1/4 cup odorless coconut oil for frying {more or less depending on the diameter of your saucepan} 

SMOKEY TEMPEH DIRECTIONS

In a frying pan, heat medium-high until the oil until bubbling. Note: you'll want enough oil to cover the bottom of the frying pan. 

Add tempeh strips and cook until brown. Flip and cook other side until brown. About 2 minutes each side. Drain on paper towel. Keep oily pan. Don't wash it. 

LENTIL INGREDIENTS

1/2 bag Trader Joes steamed lentils

3 Tbls chopped fresh mint

sea salt, to taste

1 tsp olive oil 

1 Tbls water

In the warm frying pan that you used for the tempeh you'll want to add everything until warm. Stir every minute for about 4 minutes. Note: you can actually choose to microwave or steam the bag of lentils as the package recommends if you're in a hurry or don't want a mess. I heated mine in the same pan as the tempeh. 

FINAL PREPARATION INGREDIENTS

1 head of lettuce or cabbage

handful of herbs, any or all you have on hand, I used basil, cilantro and baby kale

Break large lettuce leaves off the head of cabbage or lettuce. You'll want large cup sized pieces, be careful not to tear them. 

Once you have at least 4 leaves start layering your ingredients. Start with herbs, then add sour cream, then add the lentils and finally the tempeh. Top that with the bbq sauce. As much as you would like. 

I love this photo even though it is out of focus. My 1 year old always wakes from her nap in the middle of my photography sessions, I SWEAR IT, like clockwork. And this time she was helping me. She is the one holding the gold spoon. I had to snap the shot before she made a huge mess and this is what we ended up with. So cute! 

I love this photo even though it is out of focus. My 1 year old always wakes from her nap in the middle of my photography sessions, I SWEAR IT, like clockwork. And this time she was helping me. She is the one holding the gold spoon. I had to snap the shot before she made a huge mess and this is what we ended up with. So cute! 

Mmmmm. Enjoy. And don't forget to share your thoughts and comments. Feel free to share on Instagram if you do in fact make a recipe. Please hashtag #puremamas or tag @julinovotny and follow me for so many recipes and photos that I don't share on my blog - for whatever reason.