I may have evaded parasailing, bungee jumping, sky diving, dancing on the table at a Greek restaurant, KARAOKE and a number of other life threatening activities that The.Boy. attempted to involve me in while on vacation.

But being part of a Special Forces mission?  That was unavoidable.  Mostly because we were in it before we even realized and once we were, well. There was no going back.


It all started at lunch on Friday.

We were at a Peruvian restaurant that I defamed on Twitter for refusing to switch out the steak for veggies for me in a dish, bringing me instead an almost inedibly oversalted vegetable fried rice (more on that and the other restaurants we dined at tomorrow!).  I’m fairly certain I was moaning about how much I missed New York, the land where vegetarian options abound and where this would surely never happen.

When we heard it.

The unmistakable sound of a helicopter blade.  Hovering above the parking garage across the street.

Not just any helicopter, in fact.  But a Black Hawk.


Now I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a Black Hawk in real life, but they are HUGE.  Way bigger than your run-of-the-mill news chopper.

They have to be in order to hold the 10+ people that proceeded to exit the helicopter by sliding down a rope that had been lowered from its door and jumping onto the ground below.

Just a day in the life for them, I’m sure.  But I was on the verge of a panic attack.

And did I mention that they were then whisked away in an unmarked black van?  That happened.

And happened. And happened.

Just about once every ten minutes the helicopter returned, dropping more uniformed men from the sky.

After witnessing this (and taking extensive photos of it) approximately four times, The.Boy. decided we needed to get closer.  He wanted video footage. Obviously.  Because that’s what you do when you’re a male and you see men doing other, life-threatening dangerous things.  You involve yourself as much as possible before your girlfriend finally decides you’ve both had enough and drags you back to your hotel while all your limbs are still intact.


So, closer we got.

The.Boy. was pretty much in heaven.  I’m fairly certain he would have stood there, watching and waiting, all day if I had let him.

And me?  Well.  My nerves are still recovering.

Which is why when I got home, I reached immediately for Antonio Lofaso’s (of Top Chef renown) new cookbook, The Busy Mom’s Cookbook, which features quick, easy, and mostly healthy recipes that don’t require much thought or effort to whip up, but that still taste good.  I chose to make her lo mein, switching in tempeh for the shrimp and using rice noodles instead of lo mein, as they are what I had on hand.  The whole meal came together in about 20 minutes and was just what I needed to replenish my fuel after shaking in my (metaphorical) boots for nearly two days straight.


Tempeh Lo Mein with Bell Pepper, Edamame and Scallions
Serves 4, adapted from The Busy Mom’s Cookbook


  • 8 oz wide rice noodles
  • 1 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 (8 oz) package of tempeh, cut into thin strips
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 head Napa cabbage, shredded
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups frozen edamame
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup (vegetarian) oyster sauce
  • 4 scallions, including whites, chopped


  1. In a wok or 14-inch saute pan, heat the peanut oil on high.  Add the tempeh and season it with a pinch of salt.  Saute 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until tempeh starts to brown.
  2. Add the cabbage, onion, edamame, and red bell pepper to the pan.  Add salt and saute on high.  Keep stirring veggies until they are slightly browned.
  3. Stir in the oyster sauce.
  4. Cook the rice noodles according to package directions, strain, and add them to the pan with the veggies and tempeh.  Toss until combined and noodles are coated with sauce.  Garnish with scallions and serve.

I am submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights which is being hosted this week by Ruth of Once Upon A Feast.

You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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59 Responses to Tempeh Lo Mein with Bell Pepper, Edamame and Scallions

  1. I was a huge fan of Antonio on Top Chef- didn’t know she had a cookbook! This looks delicious and like the perfect kind of welcome home meal.

  2. OohLookBel says:

    Gosh, you certainly have exciting vacations, I’d love to see the photos of that top sekrit mission…! But what a lovely way to recover, with a bowl of these noodles. The colour is so soothing.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    That’s pretty you cool you were up close and personal with a black hawk. I’ve never worked with wide rice noodles on my own, only skinny ones. I made some fabulous sesame noodles the other day using rice noodles.

  4. Amy says:

    When we lived in Minneapolis, our house was RIGHT in the airports flight path. Over time, I did get used to it and when guests would comment “wow, that’s loud”…I was like, “What? Oh…the planes? Ya…” BUT every once in a while, they would get LOW. And I would look at Paul and say, “Uuuum. THAT one sounded like it was going to come through our roof.” So ya, I sort of know what you’re talking about. Also? Paul wants to sky dive, parasail, and bungee jump. I told him he’s more than welcome to do all those things – once I’m dead and gone.

  5. Wow what a vacation!! Sounds like fun, but I bet your so glad to be home. Your lo-mein sounds and looks incredible!

  6. Saguna says:

    That sounds like a pretty hardcore dining experience indeed! A few months ago I was having lunch in London and there was a full-on ‘hostage situation’. Three out of the four roads that surrounded the restaurant were closed and lined with officers and cameramen dashing around to see if there would be any action. It was pretty scary, so much so that I completely forgot about my pita and bhabha ghanoush…

  7. london bakes says:

    Antonia was definitely one of my favourites on Top Chef and this sounds like my kind of cookbook. Congratulations on surviving your encounter with a Black Hawk, I’d be terrified of what was going to happen next!

  8. Its nice to hear that you had fun at ur vacation… Sounds really exciting one!!!
    This lo-mein looks fabulous, you know I have never really cooked with tempeh may be once or twice… I have to start using it more…
    This recipe is totally bookmarked.

  9. oooh, this looks great! I love a good stir fry. Think I might make this today, actually 🙂

  10. Candace says:

    Sheesh! You had me on the edge of my seat with this one, Joanne. Your vacations are definitely more exciting than mine. No wonder you went running to the comfort of this beautiful bowl of deliciousness. I’m a little scared of the tempeh, honestly. Ignorance on my part, I’m sure. Having said that, I am quite confident that when I make this with some protein that I’m comfortable with that it will be a meal that will be made again and again at mi casa. These kinds of meals are my favorite!

  11. Mary says:

    This sounds different and delicious. You didn’t bungee jump? It sounds like you had a great time. Have a wonderful day. Blessings…Mary

  12. how exciting! my boyfriend, i’m sure would follow the boy’s footsteps if he witnesses that. oh, this dish is a great idea to use up the cabbage i have. 🙂

  13. Eliana says:

    Looks so delicious Joanne and like the perfect meatless meal for this sometimes meat obssessed chica.

  14. That is so exciting! But I would also be scared if I were there! Good job calming down your nerves with this simple meal.

  15. Dana says:

    Scary! Love this kind of dish and I like rice noodles so much better than any other kind of noodle in Asian dishes. How is that book overall?

  16. WHAT. Have you ever seen the show locked up abroad? because this sounds like the beginning to an episode- where your next post explains that you are writing from a small dark room with no windows and limited oxygen- questioning whether you’ll get out alive.
    Glad the recipe was what ended with a recipe to assure us that this isn’t what we can expect from your next post. Looks delicious.

  17. Shannon says:

    no idea she had a cookbook! sounds like a fun day 😛

  18. Lora says:

    I definitely need to experiment more with tempeh. This looks delicious. My husband who has major black hawk experience said it’s a machine definitely built for intimidation.

  19. Are you using different lighting or camera? You photos look even better than usual and so natural! Love this lo mein recipe! Love it

  20. Cara says:

    you are one seriously good sport 🙂

  21. Eileen says:

    That sounds like a truly bizarre experience. Hey, I live right by Moffett Field, home of Lockheed Martin & NASA, and that means we get all kinds of weird supersonic jets and the occasional B-52 bomber tooling around our neighborhood–but they never land randomly in the middle of town! It’s weird enough as it is. ANYWAY, those noodles look great! 🙂

  22. teresa says:

    oh my gosh, how crazy! i can’t imagine watching something like that, the movies are the closest i’ve ever come.

    i can’t believe a restaurant wouldn’t make such a simple substitution, sheesh! at least you made up for it with a gorgeous lo mein. the flavors look incredible!

  23. Wow, that sounds like quite the adventure Joanne and what is up with that restaurant? That is ridiculous!!

  24. Comforting food for a crazy situation! Sometimes you never know what life will throw at you, but you were in good hands with your Boy by your side. 🙂 Love this recipe! Wondering where you’ve found vegetarian oyster sauce? Is it also vegan?

  25. Alisa says:

    I tried a tempeh recipe recently, but the flavors didn’t quite go. This looks like much more of a winner Joanne.

    That is one crazy story! I’ve missed reading your posts.

  26. Antonia! She was my favorite Top Chef contestant ever. Good to know she has a cookbook now 🙂

  27. Astra Libris says:

    Oooohhhhh!!! Tempeh Lo Mein! I am SO excited!! (and you’re very brave! That sounds scary!)

  28. daphne says:

    a one pot delight!! i still think tempeh is an acquired taste but u make it look so tasty and easy!!!

  29. I’ve never seen a black hawk!! SO COOL!!! You rock just for seeing one with your own eyes. And this tempeh recipe?! Awesome. An all ’round solid post!

  30. I’m definitely still working up my courage to try tempeh again after a bit of a fail. A dish like dish really tempts to give it another go!

  31. Erica says:

    That dish looks beautiful and healthy,Joanne!I don’t like tempeh, but I would love to eat it again with this recipe.

  32. That’s pretty crazy! Great looking dish.

  33. Reeni says:

    Heehee how exciting! I never tried tempeh! But since I love tofu now that seems like my next step because this lo mein looks totally tasty!

  34. Pierce says:

    Joanne…really? REALLY?! You have to tell more of the Blackhawk story! I mean, I am lovin’ your veggie meal too but…..c’mon!

  35. tigerfish says:

    I like how you adapted the recipe using tempeh and rice noodles instead of shrimps and lo mein! It worked!

  36. sounds like a crazy experience! i’ve been wanting to try tempeh for a long time…i should try it with this!

  37. What an action packed vacation lol 😀 I love the look of the tempeh! YUM!

  38. Hotly Spiced says:

    You must have felt you were either on a movie set or that you were being invaded by your own army. Will you be posting the photos otherwise we may not believe you! I cooked something similar to this the other night and now you won’t believe me because there are no photos because we gobbled it up straight from the wok and before I had a chance to scream, ‘Get the camera’. Although I do have to confess to putting chicken in mine! xx

  39. Faith says:

    Ahhh! I totally would have been freaked out. Why are boys always so drawn to danger, lol?

    The lo mein looks delish…I’m kind-of a newbie to tempeh but I love it!

  40. Deborah says:

    Definitely some craziness there! I wonder what was going on – if it was some sort of training thing….

    I’m going to have to check out that cookbook, sounds like one that I’d love!

  41. What a vacation! And as for the non-vegetarian-friendly joint, where is it? I’ll go teach them a lesson or two.

    And as for this lo mein, yes please! I wish I could have this for dinner right about now.

  42. That Girl says:

    We live near a number of bases, and I still am not really used to watching the military maneuvers!

  43. Foodycat says:

    Boys are ridiculous. Surely the clear signs that shit was going down would be the clue that it was time to go elsewhere in a hurry?

  44. Tandy says:

    scary and exciting at the same time! We are busy watching Top Chef All Stars here 🙂

  45. Cathleen says:

    Haha, that’s hilarious. Although I think you should have gone sky diving. Probably one of the funnest moments of my life.
    But this looks great. What a way to recover 😉

  46. Guru Uru says:

    Oh wow my friend, you had me laughing throughout your post, so awesome 😀
    What an experience!
    Needed this delish meal afterwards for sure 😀


  47. Kari says:

    Um, wow. Also, scary. I think I’ll take this dish and leave the helicopter excitement to your boy 🙂

  48. Johanna GGG says:

    I don’t think I would have needed to see too much to back away – actually I think I would have wanted to back away just on the strength of the food as well as the entertainment – definitely not my sort of restaurant – but a quick healthy bowls of veg and noodles is just my sort of dinner

  49. Sounds like an…interesting night! I don’t blame you for wanting to get back to NYC. This dish looks amazing!

  50. no matter where you go, its never boring eh?
    do you carry an entourage with you?

  51. Chaya says:

    This would make a great lunch/

  52. Jenna says:

    That is one crazy story! I think I’d need that bowl of goodness to refuel too.

  53. kyleen says:

    Wow, that’s crazy. I’d probably have wanted to get closer too, to see what was going on! This lo mein looks amazing.

  54. A super easy and delightful dish after a kinda crazy day. Things like that just don’t happen! So weird.

  55. Ruth Daniels says:

    At least (for you) they didn’t whisk you away in the Black Hawk. And your veggie dish looks like the perfect recovery. Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

  56. Jiah says:

    Looks fresh, colorful, and absolutely yummy!!!!!

  57. Caroline says:

    yumm…delicious…just wow!!

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