BBQ tempeh bowls with sunflower seed ranch come together on one sheet pan. This vegan-friendly, gluten free meal is perfect for meal prep or weeknight cooking.
Why You'll Love These BBQ Tempeh Bowls:
Today, I'm introducing you to the bowl that has it all:
Firstly, protein: sometimes rather elusive in plant-based meals, however a key player in satiety.
Secondly, probiotics: important for gut health and overall immunity.
Thirdly, heaps of fiber and micronutrients: we'll get more into the specifics later, however, just know they are bountiful.
Lastly, a creamy, vegan ranch dressing: go ahead and double up on the batch and thank me later.
And incase all of that doesn't sell you, it's also weeknight-approved and holds up impeccably well for leftovers (in other words, you'll be winning weekday lunch this week).
- Sunflower seeds: These tiny, yet nutritionally mighty seeds make the base of the vegan ranch dressing. Make sure you buy raw sunflower seeds, as opposed to ones that are roasted and salted. I usually purchase mine from Trader Joe's for the best price.
- Tempeh: Tempeh's meaty texture takes to BBQ sauce very well in this recipe. I typically purchase plain tempeh, however you can also find multigrain and flax seed tempeh in most health food stores.
- Sweet Potatoes: Roasted spuds are the sweet counter to the savory BBQ sauce. Make sure to cut them into similar sized cubes to promote even cooking. (Oh, and no need to peel the skin off!)
- Red onion: Red onion turns sweet and sultry after being roasted, which is why it's one of my favorites. Just be sure to not slice the onion too thin or it runs the risk of burning.
- Kale: The base of these bowls is kale, which you can choose to use green, purple, or lacinato. The key to achieving crave-worthy kale is to rub part of the dressing into the leaves. This is called massaging and it helps break down the tough fibers of the leaves.
- BBQ sauce: Use homemade or store-bought BBQ to lacquer up the tempeh. I personally love Stubb's spicy or hickory bourbon BBQ sauce.
Step 1: Soak Sunflower Seeds
Step 2: Roast the Sweet Potatoes
Step 3: Bake Tempeh and Red Onion
Step 4: Toss Tempeh with BBQ Sauce
Step 5: Blend the Sunflower Seed Ranch Dressing
Meanwhile, drain sunflower seeds and transfer to a high speed blender. Add remaining Sunflower Seed Ranch ingredients with the exception of dill and chives. Blend on high speed until creamy; transfer to a bowl and stir in dill and chives.
Lastly, place kale in a large bowl and add one third of the dressing; use your hands to massage dressing into kale until leaves begin to soften and become well-coated. To serve, divide kale evenly into each of 3 bowls, and top with roasted sweet potato, red onion, and BBQ tempeh. Drizzle remaining dressing evenly overtop.
FAQs and Expert Tips
What Is Tempeh?
In short, tempeh is a plant-based protein made with fermented soybeans and a mix of grains. If you haven't given tempeh a chance yet, this is a great gateway recipe to welcoming it into your plant-lovin' life. In terms of texture, most would describe it as nutty, chewy, and certainly hearty. And, because tempeh undergoes less processing than its soy-based cousin, tofu, it's able to retain many of the nutritional properties of soybeans, including high-quality protein and fiber, as well as calcium and iron.
Tempeh is an excellent stand-in for animal protein because of its firm texture and adaptable flavor. In addition, the probiotics make it easier to digest than some other soy products, such as tofu.
How Do I Cook Tempeh?
Tempeh is extremely versatile, so it can take to many cooking techniques, such as steaming, braising, baking, or sautéing. Since the flavor can be rather bland on its own, tempeh takes well to a bold sauce or marinade (for example, BBQ sauce, buffalo sauce, or anything Asian-inspired). For this recipe, we're baking cubes of tempeh to enhance its natural nutty flavor.
How Do I Make Sunflower Seed Dressing?
In case you had any doubt, sunflower seeds are certainly more than just bird food. For instance, when soaked and blended, these nutrient-rich seeds transform into a rich, creamy base for salad dressing. With bright flashes of lemon, an aromatic boost from garlic and onion powder, plus a liberal deployment of fresh herbs, this dressing is miles ahead of anything sold on the shelves.
Additionally, this vegan ranch dressing is rich in heart-healthy fats and is allergen-friendly (so, free of dairy, gluten, soy, and nuts).
More Tempeh Recipes to Try:
Kimchi Fried Rice with Sesame-Braised Tempeh
Southwest Tempeh Taco Salad with Chipotle-Tahini
Vegan Kale Caesar with Smoky Tempeh Crumbles
I hope you guys enjoy this BBQ tempeh bowl as much as I do! If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and tag #dishingouthealth so I can see your beautiful creations!
BBQ Tempeh Bowls with Sunflower Seed Ranch
- 3 cups peeled and cubed sweet potato about 2 medium
- ½ red onion cut into ½-inch thick slices
- 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil divided
- ½ tsp. kosher salt divided
- ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper divided
- 1 8-oz. block tempeh, cut evenly into cubes
- 4 Tbsp. store-bought or homemade BBQ sauce
- 1 bunch green kale stemmed and roughly chopped
- **Sunflower Seed Ranch**
- ⅓ cup organic unsalted sunflower seeds
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- ½ tsp. onion powder
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- ½ tsp. each kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup filtered water
- 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill
- 2 tsp. finely chopped fresh chives
- First, place sunflower seeds in a bowl and cover with hot water; let soak for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F. Spread sweet potato on a large rimmed baking sheet and toss with 1 Tbsp. of the oil, and ¼ tsp. each of the salt and black pepper; bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove pan from oven, toss sweet potatoes and push to one side. Add red onion to center of pan, and cubed tempeh to opposite end of pan. (*Note: try to avoid any overlap to encourage browning.) Toss each with 1 Tbsp. of remaining olive oil. Season red onion with remaining ¼ tsp. salt and black pepper; place back in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove pan from oven and toss sweet potato and red onion. Brush tempeh with 2 Tbsp. of the BBQ sauce, gently tossing to coat all sides. Place back in the oven for another 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven and brush tempeh with remaining 2 Tbsp. BBQ sauce.
- Meanwhile, drain sunflower seeds and transfer to a high speed blender. Add remaining Sunflower Seed Ranch ingredients with the exception of dill and chives. Blend on high speed until creamy; transfer to a bowl and stir in dill and chives.
- Lastly, place kale in a large bowl and add one third of the dressing; use your hands to massage dressing into kale until leaves begin to soften and become well-coated. To serve, divide kale evenly into each of 3 bowls, and top with roasted sweet potato, red onion, and BBQ tempeh. Drizzle remaining dressing evenly overtop.
I am officially in love with this recipe! I try to eat more plant-based and this is such an awesome meal! I found that the sweet potatoes and onion roast rather fast; I only had them in the over for 30 minutes, not 45. Might depend on the size of the pieces (that wasn't specified in the recipe). But other than that: awestruck!
Oh I'm so glad to hear that, Marit!! Thank you so much for taking time to leave a review!
I made this into salad jars for the entire week and gosh it's good! I added some avocado yesterday and it took it to the next level.
Hi Lauren—I'm so glad you hear you enjoyed it!! Great idea layering them into salad jars! Cheers