I’m officially a vegan recipe developer.

And you can be the judge of that!

At the recent From the Ground Up trade show produced by Good to Grow, I had the opportunity to meet the lovely duo behind an Okanagan-based company, Umami Crave the Fifth. Umami was one of the many plant-based brands at the show this year. What is umami, you ask? Umami is a Japanese word that means the fifth taste that encompasses savoury foods; this biz may very well have perfected it in one bottle.

When they gave it to me to try, I immediately thought it would be great with a big ol’ vegan bowl. I ate at Kokomo this past weekend, and my tastebuds started getting inspired, so I decided to use the dressing in a bowl of my own making. That’s right — this vegan recipe bandit’s finally getting creative!

 

Wait – what is Umami Crave the Fifth?

Stephanie will tell you that the product started as a salad dressing, but ended up being great as a finishing sauce or dip as well. You can read the creation story of the product here. While sampling, they served it with some salad but also on plain bread. So it’s a really versatile sauce that contains canola oil, apple cider vinegar (keep those colds away!), nutritional yeast (the magic ingredient), liquid soy seasoning, organic dijon mustard, salt, maple syrup, garlic powder, and water.

When I see the company name, I can’t help but go back to the “Law & Order” skit from The Dave Chappelle Show where he plays a drug dealer named Carter, who pleads the fifth.

Anyway, back to cooking!

Tempeh is the new tofu.

Well, that’s not really true. I love tofu and always will. But when I went shopping at Famous Foods to get tempeh, I found out that they had Green Cuisine‘s smoked flavour which I’d never tried before! I can’t believe I didn’t know that this company was based in Victoria this whole time, either. Support local! I grabbed the last package of smoked tempeh, and also the Indonesian flavour as I thought these would go best with the sauce. I knew I wanted to use quinoa instead of rice since I’d eaten rice last week and I also had a bunch of spinach left to use too, so I just needed a few more elements. I decided on roasted “crack” broccoli, shredded carrots, and avocado.

Ingredients:

1 c quinoa
2 broccoli crowns, cut into florets
2 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
4 garlic cloves, smashed or crushed
Salt, to taste
Optional: Red pepper flakes, to taste
2 x 225g packages of tempeh (ideally smoked, but use the flavours of your choice)
3 handfuls baby spinach or 1/2 bunch chopped kale
2-3 carrots, shredded
2-3 avocados
Umami dressing – approx 1/4 cup
Sesame seeds (for garnish- black looks more pro!)
Optional: 2-3 green onion stalks, chopped

Preheat the oven 400 F. Cook the quinoa in 2 c water for approximately 15 minutes, and fluff with a fork when done. While the quinoa’s cooking, place the broccoli on a baking sheet and mix with the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes (if using). Roast for 10-15 minutes. Cut the tempeh into cubes and pan fry with a bit of olive oil on medium heat for no more than 5 minutes, tossing occasionally. To assemble, place some of the quinoa in a large bowl with some of the tempeh, half a handful of spinach/kale, some of the roasted broccoli, some shredded carrots, and 1/2 avocado, cubed. Drizzle the umami dressing on top (about 2 tbsp worth) and sprinkle sesame seeds and green onions (if using) over. Toss well until everything is coated evenly. Serves 4 large bowls or 6 smaller bowls.

 

What I love about vegan veggie bowls is that you can put pretty much ANYTHING you want in them. Your body will know the best balance of protein, carbs, and veggies to use. The lemon juice from the broccoli has that sour note, the carrots and leaves add freshness, while the avocado and umami provide that creamy, savoury flavour. With the tempeh, this bowl is FIRE!

You could swap the quinoa for brown rice, use pretty much any vegetable (raw or roasted), use cooked beans or cubed tofu instead of tempeh, and omit the green onions if you don’t want onion breath. A little bit goes a long way with the dressing so don’t overdo it- but you can always add more. I won’t blame you! I’d originally considered using my other quinoa bowl recipes with the sauces swapped for Umami:

 

Check out Umami’s recipe blog for more ideas. There are also a TON more uses right on their homepage. The product isn’t available in the Lower Mainland or online yet, but you can get it in the Okanagan right now, and harass them to bring it where you are! If I haven’t finished the entire bottle this week, you can bet I’ll be trying it on roasted potatoes or as a spread on my next vegan sandwich…cause we are gonna be OUT of soup season very soon. Whoop! #summersummersummertime

Happy bowl-making!

Web: umamicravethefifth.com
Facebook: facebook.com/umami.okanagan
Instagram: @umami_cravethefifth

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