Black Bean Tempeh Bowl


Prep time: 20 minutes.  Cook time: 15 minutes.

In 2006 I traveled through Oregon with my mom, grandma, younger brother and a friend of my mother’s visiting from Austria.  I had just graduated high school and while all my friends were road tripping together and sewing their wild oats before college, I was traveling with middle-aged women through the woods of Oregon for three weeks.  30-year-old me loves nature, loves gorgeous scenery and loves the idea of unplugging for three weeks, devoid of all technology and civilization.  18-year-old Johnny just wanted to meet girls his age and skate the whole summer.  However, after a few weeks of wilderness and painfully gratuitous photo snapping, I was rewarded with a couple of days resurfacing in Portland.  For what seemed like ages of nothingness, I was now being treated to a 48-hour window in which to skate one of the most legendary parks in skateboarding history: Burnside Skatepark.

If you haven’t had the privilege of skating Burnside, it’s amazing.  It’s an unbelievable concrete paradise.  You can smell the history, the gnarliness, the spectre-like presence of (a very much alive) Brent Atchley. You can also catch a whiff of decades-old beer cans and homelessness, but it’s magical just the same.  Not wanting to run afoul of any locals wondering what candy-ass high-schooler was traipsing around their park, I woke up at the crack of dawn each day in Portland and skated a few miles from our hotel to Burnside (making a point to stop at Voodoo Doughnut for a totally badass breakfast).

Also, if you don’t know who Brent Atchley is, get familiar:

Let me be clear; I was not good enough at transition to fully appreciate Burnside then, and I’m certainly not good enough now. My transition dexterity is weak even when the curves are forgiving. But holy Jesus, that bowl. I don’t know if it has a colloquial name, but there’s a massive, threatening bowl in the park that absolutely kicked my ass.  It’s the one Elijah Berle bails into at the song change in his Pretty Sweet part.  Shortly after that bowl tore me to shreds, I watched Chet Childress dominate it in Nothing But the Truth and all I could think was “wow, people actually skate that?”

You may remember it from the original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater Burnside level – if memory serves, it had a giant eyeball painted in it, as shown below.


While I never ripped up the park like Childress or Atchley (and I can confidently state I never will), I still built up quite an appetite from skating the promised land all morning.  An appetite stoked by skating bowls calls for another type of bowl: the black bean tempeh bowl.

Some of you are probably wondering why I let such an obvious typo in here.  Tempeh? Tempeh (pronounced tem-PEY) is not to be feared or jeered; it is to be celebrated.  In short, tempeh is a soy product, like tofu, but fermented.  Hailing from Indonesia, it’s kind of like whole-bean tofu with a higher protein content and a nuttier flavor. If you’re looking for a less-processed form of soy, this is about as good as it gets, save for just eating soybeans. The fermented nature of tempeh (which helps keep the soybeans together) provide a great probiotic benefit which, among other things, can help boost your immune system, reduce refined sugar/carb cravings, and fight indigestion and inflammation (yeah, that means help your knees after a long day of skating).  Basically, think of it as tofu’s cousin visiting from out of town.  It’s tofu with a subtle mystique.

Like tofu, it will soak up the flavor of pretty much everything you cook it in, but it takes a little caressing first.  As you’ll see below, it helps to steam the tempeh first to try to get its absorption to its highest point.  Once you toss it in with some veggies, black beans and spices, it becomes an ideal bowl after a long session of ripping (or in my case, not ripping) any transition you can find.

Let’s get to it.


  • One block tempeh (8 oz)
  • Two cups black beans (cooked)
  • One crown (1-2 cups) broccoli
  • One yellow onion
  • One bell pepper
  • One Jalapeno (optional)
  • One serrano pepper (optional)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (that pre-minced garlic in a jar is fine, too)
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • Lime juice from one lime
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp Soy sauce


  1. Though it’s not absolutely necessary, I find it helpful to simmer the tempeh before cooking; this helps loosen it up a bit and will help it absorb the flavors as you’re cooking later. Fill a pot with a few inches of water and set to a boil.  Once it starts boiling, throw the whole block of tempeh in there and take the temperature down to a simmer for 10 minutes.  After that, take the tempeh out and set it aside.
  2. While the tempeh is simmering/cooling, chop up the onion, red bell pepper, jalapeno, serrano and broccoli (I just rip the broccoli with my hands). Ideally, the broccoli should be about quarter-sized, the onion and red pepper should be about dime-sized and the serrano and jalapeno should be diced as small as possible.  That said, if you don’t mind crunching down on a sizable chunk of serrano and riding the flame, then you do you and chop as large as you want.
  3. In a large skillet, heat up the olive oil on medium heat. Once it’s nice and hot, throw in the onion and let that cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally (and enjoy that smell).  Then throw in the broccoli and red pepper and let that cook for another 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Next, toss in the jalapeno, serrano and garlic for about a minute.
  4. Grab the softened tempeh and start crumbling it up and throwing it in. As far as size, it’s up to you.  I like bigger chunks, but if you want to start breaking it down to individual beans, it’s going to be just as delicious.  After you’ve finished throwing the tempeh in, throw the black beans in and stir it all around for a 2-3 minutes.
  5. Next toss in the soy sauce and squeeze in the lime juice. Stir it around a bit and then, finally, mix up the spices and toss them in.  Stir it around and let it all cook and soak together for a 2-3 minutes.  Let it cool, dish it out and chow down.
  6. (Optional) if you have any footage of you shredding the bowl at Burnside, tag me on Instagram @salad_grinds_and_bean_plants.

Makes 4 servings.  Per serving: 225 cal, 4g fat, 32g carb, 21g protein

Happy shredding,


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