Category Archives: Sandwiches

Collard Green Wrap With Carrot-Ginger Hummus and Rainbow Veggies

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I’ve been making collard burritos for some time now.  They have never made it to my blog.  Maybe it’s because I think of them as my go-to quick meal that I eat when I don’t have time to play around with making things pretty.  They are usually filled with a hodgepodge of quinoa, beans, and some random veggies.  Nothing fancy.  Maybe it’s because if I’m eating a collard burrito it means it is late and I don’t have daylight to photograph my creation for the blog.  Winters are hard for food bloggers.  There are nights that I prep my dish the night before, then race home, fly into the kitchen, and make a mess of everything, just so I can get the last ten minutes of daylight to capture my creation.

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Lentil “Sloppy Joes” and Food Bloggers Against Hunger

Welcome to a very special Monday!  Today 200 food bloggers will dedicate their posts to raising awareness about hunger.  I am so happy to be participating in this great cause.  In addition to providing some information about hunger and links for more information, we will all post budget friendly recipes on our blogs today.

Hunger is a close personal issue to me.  My family was very low income and had to scrape to get by many weeks.  We had a very large vegetable garden that helped a great deal (and 5 kids to provide all the labor!).  If we ran out of groceries before the next paycheck came, we would eat big bowls of popcorn for dinner.  Us kids didn’t care–popcorn nights were the best!  But as an adult, I can now see and understand the worry my mom and stepdad faced week to week, paycheck to paycheck.  I still remember the embarrassment on my moms face when I blurted out that we sold our horses so we could buy winter boots.  My mom had to be pretty savvy about cooking on a limited budget.  One of her go-to recipes was lentil sloppy joes.  With this recipe, you can feed a family of four for less than $1.50 per person (this amount figures in pantry staples as well as fresh ingredients)!  Not only is it budget-friendly, this recipe is very healthy to boot and is comprised primarily of pantry staples.

I call attention to the amount spent per person for the lentil sloppy joe recipe because this figure is very important to many families, especially those who participate in SNAP, the nation’s food stamp program.  The Giving Table (organizer of the Food Bloggers Against Hunger) states that SNAP recipients are limited to an average of $3-$4 per person each day to supplement their food budget.  Additionally, the government subsidizes products like soy beans, wheat, and corn instead of fresh produce, so the most affordable food is often the unhealthiest.  Furthermore, 1 in 4 families are skipping healthy food purchases often or always due to price (click here for more info).  Overall, more than 50 million Americans face food insecurity.  In a nation of such abundance, this sad fact is difficult to believe and even more difficult to ignore.

The issue of hunger among children is especially heartwrenching.  Children who do not get the proper nutrition are not as healthy as other children (see here) and have lower academic performance.  When you are thinking about how hungry you are, it is difficult to focus on school work.  Much has been done in schools to ease this issue.  Free lunches are provided to children who qualify based on income.  Our family received free school lunches, which we took advantage of several days a week.  Despite measures being taken to provide school lunches to all children in need, this does not address the issue of children showing up to school hungry or going home to a house with limited food.  3 out of 5 teachers say they have children in their classrooms who regularly come to school hungry (from the Hunger In Our Schools Study).  Many teachers bring food to school to help children who arrive hungry to school in order to help them concentrate through the morning.  If you want to help protect funding for federal nutrition programs, click here.

Fresh foods are often more expensive than processed foods, preventing some families from buying fresh produce.  Organic produce is even more expensive.  I have hope that this issue can be eased.  In fact, in Grand Rapids, MI, where I live, I’ve seen progress toward this issue.  The Fulton Street Farmer’s Market is one place of progressive change.  They offer the Double Up Food Bucks program.  When a person eligible for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) uses his or her SNAP Bridge Card to shop for food at a farmers’ market, the amount of money that he or she spends is matched with Double Up Food Bucks bonus tokens. The tokens can then be exchanged for Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables.  For more information on this wonderful program, click here.

Shoppers who do not have a farmer’s market or a program like Double Up Food Bucks, can still take advantage of lower-cost produce.  With some tasty recipes, a home cook can transform inexpensive produce and pantry staples into fabulous meals.  There are several budget-friendly dishes that you can find on my blog; several can be made for $4!  For example, for just $4, a family can dig into this silky, gingery cabbage dish.  For just $4, you can also make these lentil-rice stuffed collard greens.  This red lentil dal is another quick and inexpensive recipe, relying primarily on pantry ingredients.  Finally, my favorite!  Polenta is a cheap, filling, and healthy meal base.  Serve with oven roasted vegetables and you have an inexpensive, healthy, and filling meal.  Click here for my polenta with roasted vegetables en papillote recipe.

So what can you do?  

  1. Please join the No Kid Hungry campaign in standing up for kids in need. Urge your members of Congress to protect federal nutrition programs that feed our nation’s hungry kids.  Just click here to get started.  It only takes a minute at most.
  2. Head over to the No Kid Hungry website to donate or to find local and national organizations in your area.  These organizations are always looking for helping hands.
  3. Watch A Place At The Table to understand more about our nations food crisis.
  4. Try to live off of $4 for one day to put yourself in the shoes of a food insecure person.
  5. Make the lentil sloppy joe recipe below!  I think it is way better than “real” sloppy joes.  I promise–you won’t miss the meat.

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Lentil “Sloppy Joes”

  • 1 cup lentils, rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 4 oz tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon mustard powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar (white or apple cider is best)
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 hamburger buns, split (preferably whole wheat)
  1. Put lentils and water in a small pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until tender.  This will take about 30 minutes.  
  2. While lentils are cooking, heat olive oil in a large skilled over medium heat.  When hot, add onions and green pepper and cook until the onions have softened somewhat, about 4 minutes.  Add tomatoes, garlic, tomato paste, ketchup, mustard powder, chili powder, molasses, and vinegar.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Turn heat to lowest setting and simmer 10 minutes until thickened.
  3. Stir cooked lentils into sauce mixture.  Serve on toasted buns.  This recipe is vegan as-is but you can add a slice of cheese to the top of the mixture on the bun and melt it under the broiler if you are not vegan.
  4. Serves 4.

Brown Rice and Lentil Burgers With Homemade Sriracha Mayo

Brown Rice and Lentil Burgers

March 11.  Daylight savings time has passed.  Another cold and dreary day in Grand Rapids but despite the weather, I have hope!  Hope that spring will be here soon.  Hope that if I keep putting one foot in front of the other I will trudge to happy destiny.  On days like today, I love being able to turn my attention to cooking.  Cooking is the ultimate form of creativity for me.  It calms my mind and turns a bright light on inside of me.  I get so excited to see how things will turn out but the process is, in an of itself, often enough for me.

Today happened to be Food Matters Project Monday.  Evi and Sam from Fifth Floor Kitchen chose the recipe for us this week…brown rice and lamb burgers with spinach.  As you know, I’m not a huge fan of cooking with meat so I opted to make lentil and brown rice burgers with lots of veggies.  I already had a pot of lentils cooked up for who-knows-what-I-would-want-to-do-with-them.  I always have a use for lentils and have a deep fondness for them.  I also happened to have cooked brown rice on hand, having cooked it for quick weekend meals.  Score!

Next came the bit where I decided how I wanted to flavor these bad boys.  I sautéed diced onions, celery, mushrooms, scallions, garlic, a couple of leaves of shredded collard greens, and some fresh parsley with some olive oil and salt.  When they were cooked up I tossed in a handful of sunflower seeds for crunch.

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Next, I blended some lentils with some rice and two eggs in my Breville blender (you may need to use a food processor if you don’t have a heavy-duty blender).  After that, I mixed the lentil-rice-egg mixture with the vegetables, stirred in some miso paste for flavor and some brown rice flour for texture and holding power.  The result was a flavorful, healthy patty with just the right texture and really nice umami flavors.

This recipe made about 15 small patties (I’m trying to remember how many I ate and how many I started with….hmmmm).  I made them small because my buns were small but you can make these any size you want.  I experimented with baking vs. pan-cooking and I found that cooking these in the pan were easier because they stuck to the baking sheet for me a little bit.  Next time, if I chose to bake them, I would use my silicone baking liner and that method would work out just fine.

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These measurements are not exact…and you can add the seasonings you want if you don’t have some of the things I added.  No biggie.  Just make sure you can form these into patties and that they hold together and you are good to go!

I served mine on a wheat bun with sliced avocado, thinly sliced onion, swiss cheese, and homemade sriracha mayo.  I cannot WAIT to post about the sriracha.  I am highly recommending you all try to make it at home–it’s easy and delicious and tastes even better than the store-bought kind.

To see what the other creative takes the Food Matters Project cooks came up with, head over to the website.

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Brown Rice and Lentil Burgers with Homemade Sriracha Mayo

Makes about 15 small patties

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 5-6 mushrooms, diced into small bits
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 leaves of collard greens, chopped into small pieces (you can substitute any green)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • Small handful of sunflower seeds (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 cups cooked brown lentils
  • 1 and ¼ cup cooked rice, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 heaping Tbsp miso paste
  • about 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  1. Heat olive oil in a pan and add all of the ingredients through parsley.  Saute for about 5-7 minutes on medium heat, stirring frequently.  When vegetables soften, turn off heat and add sunflower seeds.  Transfer to large bowl.
  2. Put lentils, 1 cup rice, 2 eggs, salt, and miso paste into a blender or food processor and pulse until combined.
  3. Pour lentil-rice-egg mixture onto the vegetable mixture along with the remaining 1/4 cup of rice and combine thoroughly.  Add flour until the mixture is thick enough to form into patties that hold their shape.
  4. Heat one teaspoon oil in a non-stick skillet and add patties to the pan, cooking in batches on low heat until the patties are browned lightly on the bottom, about 5-7 minutes.  Flip and cook on the other side for about 5 minutes until browned.  Transfer to a plate and cook the rest of the patties in batches.
  5. Serve on a bun with any toppings you would like!  I love avocado, lettuce, onion, dijon mustard, sriracha mayo, cheeses….mmmmm….I think I might have another!

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Tofu Nut Spinach Burgers

This week’s Food Matters Project recipe was spinach tofu burgers, chosen by the adorable vegetarian food blogging couple, Matt and Claire of It’s Not About the Recipe.  I love veggie burgers and welcome the opportunity to try a new version and this one was definitely new to me, having never made veggie burgers with tofu.  Bittman’s version has asian inpired seasonings and being that I get a little bored with asian seasonings always accompanying tofu, I wanted to mix things up a little.  A while back I spotted some tofu burgers on 101 Cookbooks, a blog I have a major crush on.  I’ve been wanting to try her version so combined elements of both to create the tofu nut spinach burgers you see here.

Having now tried them, the verdict is that these were quite good but really rely heavily on the seasonings.  While I was happy with them, there was an umami element that I felt was missing and I kept thinking that next time, I’m going to add a bunch of sauteed onions to the mix along with some crumbled feta and that will take it to exactly where these need to be for me in terms of flavor.  The texture was great and a welcome change and these were easy, peasy, pumpkin pie to make.  Just throw everything into the food processor, give it a whirl, make patties, cook ’em up.  Done.  Easy.

I served mine open-faced with havarti, tomato pesto (store-bought), avocado, sauteed red onion, arugula and a little slather of my tofu mayo from last week.  Experiment with whatever toppings you like and enjoy adding this new burger to your repertoire…it’s worth keeping around.

Tofu Nut Spinach Burgers; modified mostly from 101 Cookbooks and a little bit from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Project Cookbook

Makes 10

  • 5 oz of baby spinach or frozen spinach (if you use frozen, drain and pat)
  • 1 pound / 16 oz extra-firm tofu, drained and patted dry, then sliced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup fine dried bread crumbs or panko
  • 1/2 cup cashew nuts
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon shoyu or soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

extras: whatever buns & condiments you like. I had mine open faced with grilled onions, tomato pesto (from a fancy food store), havarti, avocado, and arugula.

Give the spinach a few whirls in the food processor until chopped up.  Put spinach in a bowl and set aside.

Place all the remaining ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture comes together and is free of most chunks, stopping to scrape down the sides of the food processor once or twice if needed. If it seems a bit thin to you, add more bread crumbs a small handful at a time until everything comes together.  Mix spinach back in with a spoon (I do this so the mix doesn’t become green but rather has flecks of spinach in it).

Divide the mixture into eight equal portions and use your hands to (really) press and form into round but flat-ish patties.

Pour the olive oil into your largest skillet over medium-high heat, and arrange as many patties as you can without crowding. Cover, and cook turning once, until deeply browned on both sides. Roughly ten minutes. You want to make sure the middle of the patties cook through. If the pan is too hot you’ll burn the outsides before the middle cooks up, so be mindful of that.

Serve with your favorite burger fixings.

Makes ten tofu burgers.

Bruschetta with Pistachio Goat Cheese, Apricot, and Honey

Take two on the pistachio goat cheese.  I made this delicious spread a week ago and served it on top of roasted beet and sweet potato medallions.  I was so enamored that I wanted to try it again, on a different platform.  Enter bruschetta.  I’ve discussed this before, but bruschetta is simply toasted or grilled bread drizzled with olive oil.  You can top it with anything you see fit.  This weekend I topped it with pistachio goat cheese, apricots, and honey.

Bruschetta with Pistachio Goat Cheese, Apricot, and Honey

  • 1/2 loaf of french bread, sliced about 1/2 inch thick
  • olive oil in a bottle for drizzling
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 1 cup shelled pistachios
  • 2 apricots, pit removed and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  1. Combine the goat cheese and pistachios in a food processor. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and, with the machine running, drizzle in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. If the mixture doesn’t come together, add more oil until the filling is smooth and fluffy. Taste and adjust with seasoning, then cover and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the bruschetta.
  2. Heat a grill or a broiler.  Drizzle slices of bread with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place on grill or under broiler until just toasted.  Turn, and toast second side.  Remove from oven.
  3. Transfer the goat cheese mixture to a pastry bag or a zip-lock bag with the corner cut off (or you can just use a teaspoon for this). Squeeze or spoon dabs of the filling onto the bruschetta.  Repeat until either the bruschetta or the filling runs out, top with two slices of apricot per toast and a light drizzle of honey, then serve straight away.

Updated Tea Sandwiches With Chilled Avocado-Radish-Basil Soup

This week was my week to host the Food Matters Project and I picked what I figured I would want to make the first few days of July.  Knowing me, I would be eating lots of cucumbers on toast and crackers around this time of the summer.  Knowing me, I wouldn’t want to fire up the stove.  What I didn’t know was that I would be escaping the dry, 95 degree weather in Grand Rapids for a beautiful, breezy weekend in northern lower Michigan…foodie heaven.  For more on all of the wonderful foods and sights I took in this weekend, see my next post!

In my rush to leave my house to enjoy this incredible weekend, I left with very few ingredients for the tea sandwiches.  I packed fresh shelled peas, white and red radishes, English cucumbers, arugula, sunflower sprouts, butter, and bread.  The result was a far cry from the creative updated sandwiches in Bittman’s book but still made for a simple and delicious lunch alongside a nice chilled avocado-radish and basil soup.  Thanks to Meryl and her family for joining me on my culinary adventure and being such gracious taste-testers!  See below for several tea sandwich recipes from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook, for what I did to create my sandwiches, for my update on the updated tea sandwiches (made the radish-walnut sandwiches for lunch after posting this!) and for the avocado-radish-basil soup that my sandwiches were served with.

Aura’s Open Faced Tea Sandwiches

For my tea sandwiches, I spread salted butter on several slices of light wheat toast made by a local bakery (turned out it was a little dry but what do you do!).  I lightly steamed about 1 cup of peas and mashed them with 1 Tbsp butter and 1/2 minced clove of garlic.  I thinly, thinly sliced 2 English cucumbers and 4 radishes.  Next, I assembled! Some slices of bread got spread with garlicky peas and then topped with radishes or cucumber.  Some were dressed plainly with butter then radishes or cucumber.  However you want to make these guys is great–just make any combination of cucumbers, radishes, basil, arugula, sunflower sprouts, peas….you are the artist!

Avocado, Radish, and Basil Soup; From Martha Stewart Living, July 2012

Scoop flesh from 2 chilled avocados (7 to 8 oz each) and puree with 3 cups cold water, 1 and ½ tsp. coarse salt, and 1 and ½ cups basil leaves in a blender until smooth.  Add 3 trimmed large radishes, and pulse until chunky, about 4 times.  Season with freshly ground black pepper.  Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.  Stir well, and garnish with julienned radish and basil leaves before serving.  Serves 5.

Above:  open faced radish walnut tea sandwiches–recipe below

Updated Tea Sandwiches; from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook

Tea sandwiches may be old-fashioned, but they’re easy to modernize and not at all gimmicky.  (The classic is plain cucumber and butter—you don’t get much less gimmicky than that.)  Consider these as a springboard to your own combinations. 

In general, the bread is fine-crumbed and sliced thin, the fillings are fresh, and there is little or no lag between making and serving.  All of this makes homemade whole wheat sandwich bread perfect, but really any loaf with a dense texture, relatively soft crust, and fine crumb is good.

Seasonal vegetables are almost universally well suited for small sandwiches—even leftover roasted or grilled vegetables or salads.  Just make sure the ingredients are drained of any dressing or marinade and chopped up a bit, which makes the sandwiches easier to cut and eat.

You can, of course, add a little cheese or meat to many tea sandwiches.  Try blending crumbled feta or blue cheese or grated Parmesan in with the pesto-like spreads.  Or before closing the sandwiches, sprinkle the fillings with crumbled bacon or add a thin shard of prosciutto, roast beef or pork, or shredded grilled chicken.

Cucumber-Wasabi Tea Sandwiches

Makes:  4 to 8 servings; Time:  10 minutes

  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • ½ teaspoon wasabi powder, or more to taste
  • 8 thin slices sandwich bread, preferably whole wheat
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and very thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chopped watercress
  • Salt and black pepper

Combine the mayonnaise and wasabi in a small bowl.  Spread a thin layer of this mixture on each of the bread slices.  Top half the bread slices with the cucumber and watercress.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, close the sandwiches, cut each into quarters on the diagonal, and serve.

Gingered Pea Tea Sandwiches

Makes:  4 to 8 servings; Time:  10 minutes

  • 2 cups fresh or thawed frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter or olive oil, or more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • ½ cup chopped fresh mint
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 8 thin slices sandwich bread, preferably whole wheat

Mash the peas with the butter or oil and ginger until the mixture is pasty but not smooth; add a little more butter or oil if necessary to make the peas spreadable.  (You can make the filling ahead to this point, cover, and refrigerate for up to a day; return to room temperature before proceeding.)  Add the mint and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

  1. Smear about ¼ cup of the filling on 4 of the bread slices and top to make sandwiches.  Cut each into quarters on the diagonal and serve.

Pumpkin-Apple Tea Sandwiches

Makes:  4 to 8 servings; Time:  10 minutes with cooked or canned pumpkin

  • ½ cup mashed or pureed cooked pumpkin or winter squash (good quality canned is okay)
  • 2 green apples, cored and thinly sliced
  • 8 thin slices sandwich bread, preferably multigrain
  • ½ teaspoon coriander or cinnamon
  • Salt and black pepper

Spread a thin layer of the pumpkin or squash on each of the bread slices.  Top half the bread slices with the apple.  Season with the spice and a little salt and pepper, close the sandwiches, cut each into quarters on the diagonal, and serve.

Egg and Olive Tea Sandwiches

Makes:  4 to 8 servings; Time:  10 minutes with already cooked eggs

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup good quality green olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1 cup chopped spinach
  • 8 thin slices sandwich bread, preferably whole wheat
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, thinly sliced
  • Salt and black pepper
  1. Combine the mayonnaise, olives, and spinach in a small bowl.  Spread a thin layer of the mixture on half of the bread slices; smear the rest of the slices with the mustard.
  2. Put the hard-boiled egg on top of the mustard, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and close the sandwiches, pressing down slightly to seal.  Cut each sandwich into quarters on the diagonal and serve.

Radish-Walnut Tea Sandwiches

Makes:  4 to 8 servings; Time:  20 minutes

  • ½ pound radishes
  • 1 cup arugula
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, or more as needed
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 8 thin slices bread, preferably whole wheat baguette
  1. Pulse the radishes in a food processor until they’re chopped up a bit but not pureed; remove, scraping what you can out of the bowl.
  2. Combine the arugula, walnuts, and orange zest in the processor and, with the machine on, drizzle in the oil, adding enough to make a paste.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Spread a thin layer of the walnut mixture on each of the bread slices.  Top half the slices with the radishes, close the sandwiches, cut each into small sandwiches on the diagonal (or into quarters if you are using sandwich bread), and serve.

The Simplest Bean Burgers

Another good one from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.  I’m on a real roll with him.  Before that it was Donna Hay–I’ll try to post some Donna Hay gems up here soon.  Her cookbooks are amazing!  Sorry no photo on this one.  I ate it before I could take a photo!  I froze the rest so the next time I have one I’ll try to post the photo.

The Simplest Bean Burgers; makes 4 to 6

  • 2 cups well-cooked white, black, or red beans or chickpeas or lentils, or one 14-ounce can, drained.
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (preferably not instant)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder or spice mix of your choice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • Bean cooking liquid, stock, or other liquid (cream, milk, water, ketchup, etc.) if necessary
  • Extra virgin olive oil or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, as needed
  1. Combine the beans, onion, oats, chili powder, salt, pepper, and egg in a food processor and pulse until chunky but not pureed, adding a little liquid if necessary (this is unlikely but not impossible) to produce a moist but not wet mixture.  Let the mixture rest for a few minutes if time allows.
  2. With wet hands, shape into whatever size patties you want and again let rest for a few minutes if time allows.  (You can make the burger mixture or even shape the burgers up to a day or so in advance.  Just cover tightly and refrigerate, then bring everything back to room temperature before cooking.)  Film the bottom of a large nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet with oil and turn the heat to medium.  A minute later, add the patties.  Cook until nicely browned on one side, about 5 minutes; turn carefully and cook on the other side until firm and browned.
  3. Serve on plates with any accompaniments you wish or on buns with the usual burger fixings.  Or cool and refrigerate or freeze for later use.

AURA’S NOTES:  I added some leftover potatoes and some finely diced carrots to mine for some more veggie power.  Think twice before adding liquid to the mixture.  I think adding a bit to mine made them a little too moist but some cooking time helped fix that.  I cooked half of mine in a skillet and half in the oven on about 350 degrees.  Both were equally good.

Tempeh Reuben

I pulled this recipe from “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone,”  by Deborah Madison.  I have made tempeh reuben’s countless times since I first had one at the Alex Rock Cafe (short-lived) in East Town but this was the first time I used a recipe for a tempeh sandwich.  I ran across this one in Deborah Madison’s book; the tempeh was braised so I thought I’d try something new.  Tempeh is not for everyone but if you like it or want to try it and don’t know what to do with it, this is my favorite way to eat it!  Serve this sandwich with Thousand Island Dressing to make it into a reuben.  Serve it with some quick vinegary cabbage and carrot slaw and some baked beans if you really want to go all out.

Tempeh on Rye; makes 3 sandwiches

  • 1 package tempeh
  • 1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Salt and freshly milled pepper
  • 6 slices rye bread
  • 3 slices Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup sauerkraut, drained and warmed
  • Prepared horseradish and mustard
  1. Cut the tempeh crosswise in half, then cut each half piece into 3 very thin slabs.  In a skillet wide enough to hold the tempeh in a single layer–though this isn’t absolutely crucial–heat the garlic and oil over medium heat until the garlic begins to color.  Add the tempeh pieces and turn them once to coat them with the oil, then add the paprika, dill, caraway, bay, vinegar, and soy sauce.  Season with pepper to taste.  Add water to cover and simmer until the water has reduced to a glaze, about 20 minutes.  (If it cooks down sooner, add more water as needed.)  Allow the tempeh to fry for several minutes in the oil that remains in the pan, turning it a few times.  Taste a corner, then season with salt, if needed, and more pepper.
  2. Toast the bread.  Lay the cheese on 3 slices and broil until it begins to melt.  Add the tempeh and sauerkraut.  Cover the rest of the bread with horseradish and mustard, cover the sandwiches, and serve.

DEBORAH MADISON’S NOTES ON TEMPEH:  Braising tempeh in its seasoning, then letting it brown in the remaining oil improves its flavor and is more effective than marinating it.  Even if you are not a fan of meat pretenders, this robust sandwich is hefty and satisfying and tastes good in its own right.

MARK BITTMAN’S NOTES ON TEMPEH:  Tempeh (pronounced tem-pay), which originated in Indonesia several hundred years ago, is relatively new to America.  Like soy sauce, miso, and vinegar, tempeh is fermented, with a complex yeasty flavor and a high umami quotient; think of mushrooms, strong cheese, or hearty bread.  Like blue cheese, tempeh is “inoculated” with an edible mold, so it looks pretty wild:  an ugly, lumpy, compressed cake of beans (and sometimes grains), usually less than an inch thick.  It’s more of an acquired taste than many foods, but if you make Crunch Crumbled Tempeh (page 674 of “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian”), my guess is you’ll be fond of it pretty quickly.  Tempeh is very high in protein, up to 19 percent by weight, which means about 15 grams in a 1/2 cup serving–just about all you really need on many days.  Unlike tofu, tempeh is a whole soybean food, so it’s also relatively high in fiber and all the nutrients found in whole soybeans, including B vitamins and many amino acids.

AURA’S NOTES ON TEMPEH:  You can find tempeh at Meijer and D&W stores–they usually carry the “LightLife” brand.  But if you are going to make this sandwich and really give tempeh a shot, I’d make the trip to Harvest Health on Eastern and Burton to buy the “West Soy” brand, which used to be “White Wave”.  It is much, much better!  If you don’t want to go through the whole process of braising for this sandwich, just fry the tempeh in a little oil and splash some tamari soy sauce on it at the end of cooking.  Just as good and your house won’t smell like vinegar!