Monday, February 27, 2012

Vegan BLT

I think my new favorite food is tempeh.  I am still not a huge fan of tofu, but I LOVE tempeh. From Tempeh is made from cooked and slightly fermented soybeans and formed into a patty, similar to a very firm veggie burger. Many commercially prepared brands add other grains, such as barley, and also add spices and extra flavors. Although tempeh is made from soy, it has a unique taste and is mildly flavorful on it's own, unlike tofu. If you aren't fond of tofu, tempeh is also very high in protein and calcium, as well as beneficial isoflavones, but tastes nothing like tofu. Tempeh has a textured and nutty flavor. Here is a great site with more detail, especially concerning the nutrional benefits of tempeh.

One of my favorite sandwiches has always been a BLT.  I love the juxtaposition of the crispy, salty bacon with the crisp cold lettuce and juicy tomato, together on toasted bread slathered with Miracle Whip.  Now, bacon is just about one of the worst foods you can eat - super high in sodium, fat and nitrates (cancer causers), but I love the salt and crispiness.  So when I heard about tempeh bacon, I couldn't wait to try it.  It has a different texture than bacon, obviously, but with the right seasoning it tastes smoky and salty just like bacon and I am thrilled to have a way to enjoy my favorite sandwich.  In fact, I made it for Rachel the a week or two ago (because she loves bacon) and she has asked for it every day since. 
You can buy it already seasoned or make your own.  I find it a little expensive to buy ready-made so I marinate and cook it myself. 
Tempeh bacon:

1 pkg (8 oz) tempeh
1/4 c. tamari soy sauce
2 tsp liquid smoke
3 Tbsp real maple syrup
1/4 c. water
Oil for frying

Place block of tempeh in a steamer basket over boiling water and steam for 10 minutes.  Let cool, then slice into thin strips.  Meanwhile, in a bowl combine tamari, liquid smoke, maple syrup and water.  Mix well.  Marinate for 30 minutes or overnight.  The longer you marinate, the stronger the flavor will be. 

After tempeh has marinated, add strips to a lightly greased skillet and heat until crisp.  After about 5 minutes on each side, the tempeh will turn brown, carmelize and get crispier and chewier. 

To make the BLT, I toast whole-wheat bread, then spread with hummus. 

Layer on the tempeh, lettuce and tomato.  Delicious!

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