Monday, December 19, 2011

Wild Sweet Potato Hash with Tempeh Bac'un

Background: I’ve been in yoga teacher training for the past 3 months. I am so thrilled I decided to do this, because it’s been on my to-do list for about 3 years. As I got further into the program however, many other projects started to intersect with training: starting an employee wellness group at my job, project launches, employee cookbook, holidays. My desire to do household activities (i.e.. casual cleaning, laundry, showering) significantly decreased. This includes cooking. Yes, even cooking. Our takeout bill skyrocketed.

Some of these things have been completed by now: one whole Thanksgiving and half of Christmas, the cookbook, and an intense system implementation at work. And today I finally finished yoga teacher training. I wanted to celebrate! But still not cook.

This is the conversation that led up to this meal.

Me: What are we getting for dinner? Take out?
Partner in Crime: We don’t have anything at home?
Me: No… well we have a bunch of sweet potatoes.
PIC:  And tempeh. Can’t we do sweet potatoes and tempeh over rice.
Me: No. Item + item over rice does not a meal make. Plus that’s too many starches.
PIC: [Blank stare]
Me: Well maybe I can do something.

So in a moment of absolute hesitation I thought of this recipe in an awesome cookbook my father gave me 2 years ago. The recipe is for East African Wilderness Sweet Potato Patties, but I didn’t feel like doing all the work that goes into patties. Hash is easier; everything goes into one pan. This fabulously flavorful dish seems to have revived some semblance of my passion for cooking before life took over.

Wild Sweet Potato Hash with Tempeh Bac’un
Makes 2-3 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 45-50 minutes


1 T. coconut oil
½ medium onion, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 red chili pepper or jalapeno, minced
1 tsp. cumin seeds
2 inch cinnamon stick
4 whole cloves
½ tsp. paprika
¼ tsp. turmeric
¼ tsp. ground cardamom
1 medium russet potato, cubed (small)
1 medium sweet potato, cubed (small)
½ summer squash, diced
½ medium red pepper
½ c. fresh or frozen yellow corn (thawed)
Salt and cayenne pepper

¼ c. cilantro, chopped
2 T. chives, chopped
Tempeh Bac’un (recipe below)


Optional: Toast the cumin, cinnamon and cloves over dry heat until fragrant. Remove from heat and ground in a mortar and pestle. Or be lazy like me and just throw them in the dish as their beautiful selves come in the bottle.

In a medium cast iron pan, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat and add onions. Sauté until translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Lower heat to medium and add garlic and chili pepper. Stir and cook until garlic is fragrant, 30-60 seconds. Add remaining spices and stir for another 30 seconds and add potatoes. Cook until potatoes are al dente, about 20 minutes. Add remaining veggies plus a pinch of salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Cook until potatoes are tender and browned on all sides.  Remove from heat and stir in cilantro and chives. Serve with tempeh bac’un on top.

Tempeh Bac’un
Makes: 3-4 servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes

After making this several times, I’ve found that the proportions can always change depending on your taste. If you like a sweeter flavor, opt for more maple syrup. If you like salt, add a dash more soy sauce. Taste this as you go and adjust accordingly.


1 pkg tempeh, thinly sliced into strips
2-3 T. soy sauce or tamari
½ -1 T. maple syrup.
½ tsp. liquid smoke (10 shakes or so)
Pinch of ground cumin


Lay tempeh flat in a baking dish or roasting pan. Mix marinade ingredients together and pour evenly over tempeh. Flip over to coat evenly on both sides. Let side for 5 minutes or so. When ready to cook, remove the tempeh reserving the marinade.

Heat a skillet over high heat and either coat with cooking spray or heat with a dash of canola oil or Earth Balance. Add tempeh in one layer (you may have to make 2 batches) and cook until brown, about 2-3 minutes. Flip over and cook on other side for another 2 minutes. Pour remaining marinade and cook just until marinade cooks through and evaporates. Remove and serve!


  1. Kelly! I wanted to let you know that I've been loving your blog lately and this post inspired me to finally use the half of a squash and sprouting potatoes that have been staring at me for a few days. The Bac'un is delicious--thanks for a new way to use tempeh!

    Cheers and Happy almost solstice!
    Alex Wilson

  2. Alex! I'm SO happy to hear from you - I hope the squash was fabulous :) Best wishes to you my dear!