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Peruvian Lomo Saltado With Tempeh

Photograph by Morena Escardo

Even though I've been a vegetarian all my life, I only recently learned how to cook with tempeh. This soy product is a great alternative to meat, but unless you know how to prepare it, it can be rather tasteless.

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Don't worry, I solved the puzzle for all of us and learned how to turn this vegan "meat" into a tasty replacement for animal protein in countless dishes. Here, for example, I made a vegan version of the classic Peruvian dish known as lomo saltado. I even gave it a more nutritious punch by using quinoa instead of rice, and sweet potato oven-fries instead of French fries.

You can substitute cauliflower, green beans, thickly sliced zucchini, or other veggies instead of broccoli. This dish is also a good way to use up any leftover quinoa, brown rice, or millet.

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Time-saving tips: Marinate the tempeh overnight or in the morning so that it's flavorful by dinnertime. Cut prep time by making the quinoa and vegetable mixture ahead of time — it will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.

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RECIPE: Vegan Lomo Saltado With Tempeh
Yields 2-3 servings

Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes (plus overnight to marinate)


For the tempeh:

  • 1 medium garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ají amarillo paste (or any other chili pepper in paste, powder, or flake form, to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable stock or water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 8-ounce package of tempeh (any kind), cut into 1-inch cubes

For the sweet potato oven fries:

  • 1 large sweet potato, washed and cut into 1/4-inch sticks
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

For the quinoa:

  • 1/2 cup white quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups water

For the saltado:

  • 1 small broccoli head
  • 1/2 medium red onion, sliced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tamari
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro or parsley


For the tempeh:

  1. Mix the garlic, ginger, tamari, oil, chili, vinegar, stock or water, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Add the cubed tempeh, stir well, cover, and refrigerate.
  2. Marinate overnight, or for at least two hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Place the tempeh with its marinating juices in a baking pan, and bake for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.

For the fries:

  1. While the tempeh is in the oven, wash and cut the sweet potato and put the sticks in a bowl.
  2. Season with salt, pepper, and powdered garlic, and pour the olive oil on top. Mix well.Cover a baking pan with parchment paper and spread the sweet potato sticks on top.
  3. Once the tempeh is ready, take it out of the oven and set aside to cool.
  4. Increase the heat to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Bake the sweet potato fries for 25 minutes, stirring halfway through so they don't burn on one side. When ready, take them out of the oven and set aside to cool.

While the tempeh and sweet potato fries are in the oven, prepare the quinoa and get everything ready for the saltado.

For the quinoa:

  1. Put the quinoa and water in a small pan over high heat.
  2. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to medium. Cook uncovered until the water evaporates (about 15-20 minutes.)

For the saltado:

  1. Steam the broccoli until al dente (about 8 minutes). Transfer to a plate and let it cool. Cut the broccoli stems into slices, and the rest into individual florets.
  2. Sauté the onion slices and halved cherry tomatoes in oil over medium heat for 1-2 minutes (you want them to be slightly cooked but still crunchy and vibrant).
  3. Add the baked tempeh, steamed broccoli, and tamari. Stir for another 30 seconds and turn the heat off.
  4. Sprinkle with chopped herbs and serve with sweet potato fries and quinoa on the side.

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Photograph by Morena Escardo

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Photograph by Morena Escardo

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