Pan-Fried Mung Beans with Tempeh Recipe | Cook the Book

Photographs: Heidi Swanson

What sets Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day apart from other natural foods cookbooks it that the recipes are more incidentally healthy than overtly healthy. Her formula = great ingredients plus innovative seasoning methods for wholesome, happy-belly-making dishes.

I chose this recipe for Pan-Fried Mung Beans with Tempeh to round out our Super Natural Every Day week as a bit of an experiment. On paper, this is a health food recipe through and through. I mean mung beans, tempeh, and broccoli are the stuff 1970s-era hippie health jokes were made of. I was dying to see if this could actually be tasty in the deft hand of Heidi Swanson. And sure enough, it is.

This recipe is a testament to the fact that a bit of salt, fat, and dairy can go a long way in transforming even the most hippie health food into a plate that's kind of amazing. Playing with textures and flavors Swanson marinates tempeh briefly in shoyu and olive oil before pan-searing it crisp. Mung beans are nutty and even a bit fun to eat if you promise not to cook them to death. And the broccoli? Well, similarly to the mung beans, proper cooking is the answer. Quickly sautéed in the soy and olive oil, taking care not to overcook to the point of mushiness and it's a revelation, even for card-carrying broccoli haters.

The last step is to liven up your complete vegetarian plate with bright cilantro and lemon zest and a few dollops of salted yogurt. What started out as an austere list of ingredients ends up coming together to make comfort food on a lot of levels—salty, creamy, crisp, and nutty with a little bit of fried action in there for good measure. At its core this is health food but on the fork, not so much.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Super Natural Every Day to give away this week.

Reprinted with permission from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson and her blog, 101 Cookbooks. Copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

Recipe Facts

Active: 30 mins
Total: 30 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons shoyu, tamari, or soy sauce
  • 8 ounces tempeh, cut into pencil-thick strips
  • 2 1/2 cups broccolini or broccoli florets, trimmed into bite-size pieces
  • Fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked mung beans (see note)
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/3 cup Greek-style yogurt or crème fraîche


  1. Whisk together the olive oil and shoyu in a wide shallow bowl and add the tempeh. Toss gently until the tempeh is well coated and let it sit for at least 5 minutes.

  2. Place the tempeh, in a single layer, in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Reserve any leftover olive oil mixture; there should be about 1 tablespoon. Cook the tempeh until both sides are deeply golden, a few minutes on each side. Remove the tempeh from the pan.

  3. Add the reserved olive oil–shoyu mixture to the skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the broccolini and a couple pinches of salt. Cover and cook for just a minute to cook it through. Uncover and stir in the mung beans. Sauté, stirring constantly, until the broccolini is bright and slightly tender and the beans are hot, another couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and cilantro.

  4. In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt and 2 pinches of salt.

  5. Turn out the bean mixture onto a platter, top with the tempeh and a few dollops of the salted yogurt, and serve immediately.

    Note:Mung beans don’t need to soak before cooking. To cook, simply cover 1 cup / 6.5 oz / 185 g dried mung beans with a few inches of water in a saucepan and simmer until beans are very tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain well. You’ll have enough cooked mung beans for this recipe, plus a little left over for a snack.