I have enjoyed reading all the awesome entries for Vegan Mofo and have a ton of new pins that I can’t wait to try. Since I’m by no means a cook, there was no way I could participate so I really admire all the bloggers who have toiled for 11 days so far to bring us their creations.
That having been said I am occasionally struck by inspiration and I can’t wait to share when it comes to fruition. The following is a recipe I adapted from a from Penzey’s Spices. It was for a tofu BLT (subbing the bacon with tofu) and it sounded so good I tried it. I made a few changes—instead of lettuce I used baby spinach. Why? Well, it’s hard to use a whole head of lettuce between two people before it goes bad. Baby spinach is available at the salad bar at Whole Foods, so I can get just the amount I need. Plus spinach is healthier, so why not try it? The rest of the sandwich was standard—thick slices of tomatoes, a bit of vegan mayo, and toasted bread. The tofu was sliced, coated with Penzey’s Mitchell Street Steak seasoning and baked. It was filling, fairly healthy, and paired perfectly with some vegan potato salad.
However I didn’t want to stop there. Something was missing and keeping it from being a really outstanding, unique sandwich. I felt like the smokiness that bacon would have provided wasn’t represented enough in the seasoning. I know I could have used tempeh bacon, but I’m not a huge fan of tempeh to begin with and wanted to stick with tofu as the protein. So the wheels began to turn and when Robert and I purchased a bushel of roasted green chili the light bulb clicked on. The result: tofu, green chili, and arugula toasted sandwiches. Okay, I know it’s a far cry from the original but bear with me; I have a reason for all the changes.
First, I used green chili instead of tomatoes because Robert will eat anything with green chili. Seriously, he would put it on ice cream given half a chance. Also, do you know how much green chili comes in a bushel? A lot. We have green chili coming out our ears so I needed any excuse to use some. As for the arugula, that was more a matter of using what I had on hand. I had leftover arugula from another meal and didn’t see the point in buying spinach. It added a fresh crunch and the peppery taste complimented the chili.
So how did I fix the lack of smokiness? Vegan bacon bits. I added it to the bowl of spice I used to coat the tofu and it worked wonders. It added a nice texture and boosted the seasoning so it really stood out among the other strong flavors. I also pan-fried the tofu this time to get a better sear on the outside.
I’m pretty proud of this recipe and I hope you give it a try. It might sound a little odd at first but trust me; everything comes together so well when you take the first bite. The amounts of ingredients are for 2 sandwiches, so adjust accordingly. Also, I would suggest wilting the arugula a bit before adding to the sandwich; as much as I liked the freshness, the raw taste was a bit overwhelming. If you can’t get your hands on fresh roasted green chili you can sub the canned variety; just drain them before adding so it doesn’t make everything soggy.
Tofu, Green Chili, and Arugula Sandwich-makes 2 sandwiches
½ block of firm tofu, drained well and cut into 6 slices
4-5 roasted green chilies, halved, seeded, and cut into ½ inch wide strips
½ cup arugula
~2 Tbs steak seasoning
~1 Tbs vegan bacon bits
2 Tbs olive oil
4 slices bread
In a shallow pan or dish, combine the seasoning and bacon bits. Coat each strip of tofu with the mixture, pressing down slightly on each side to embed the bacon bits. Heat the olive oil skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and let cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, being careful to not let it burn.
Heat a small pan over medium and add the arugula. Cover and let wilt for about 2 minutes.
To assemble: Toast bread and coat one slice with mayo. To this slice, add half of the arugula (the mayo helps to adhere it to the bread so it won’t slip out while eating). Add half the green chili strips and 3 slices of tofu, and top with the other slice of bread. Repeat with second sandwich. Voila! A smoky, spicy, crunchy, filling, sammie. Pair with whatever side your heart desires, though I highly suggest tater tots