TLT – Tempeh, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwich
A few years ago, I decided to eat healthier and start exercising. It wasn’t a weight issue. In fact, I’ve always been on the very scrawny side – much to my mom’s chagrin. And because of this, I ate whatever I wanted. My biggest weakness was fried foods. But you know what? If it doesn’t show up as excess weight on your body, it will show up in some other form. Mine took on the form of CONSTANT fatigue – oh, and the moodiness, probably because I felt so run down all the time.
This is when I started cooking regularly. It’s so much easier to eat healthy when you have control over your environment and your ingredients. But it wasn’t easy in the beginning, because cooking can require some time and patience.
And around that same time, I tried tempeh for the first time. And I had it in a TLT. I really didn’t expect much. I actually expected to hate it. The appearance of tempeh itself was a bit off-putting. But I ended up loving it. Since then, I’ve had the sandwich at restaurants and at home using various different recipes. There are many complicated recipes out there. But they just didn’t fit my life. So I experimented with various ingredients to create a simple recipe to fit my life, without sacrificing taste.
It’s low in sodium and high in nutrition. And it’s a pretty easy recipe. I like to cut corners whenever I can, because cooking can be a time-consuming endeavor; one of the ways I do this is by using taco or fajita seasoning by Simply Organic to give the dish a kick. It comes in a little packet. It’s not perishable (well, it has a long shelf life or “refrigerator-life” once it’s opened). And it’s such an easy way to give this dish a nice smoky flavor. Additionally, if I have any guacamole left, I make this sandwich. I use it in lieu of smashed avocado (they are essentially the same, but the guac has that extra flavor!). It’s a yummy way to cut down on work and use up leftover guacamole, don’t you think?
But one thing from my “past” life that I can’t live without is ketchup. I know. It’s full of sugar and salt. And Dr. Oz tells me that sun-dried tomato paste can be used as a substitute. But it is just not the same! I liberally smother almost all of my egg dishes with ketchup. And I dip all of my sandwiches in ketchup – including this TLT. I can’t help it. I love the stuff. But with or without it, this TLT is delicious.
Immediately following the recipe are two pictures from the Rihanna concert I went to last week. If you are a fan of Rihanna, enjoy!
TLT – Tempeh Lettuce Tomato Sandwich Recipe
Makes 2 sandwiches (You can make 4 sandwiches if you just use one slice of tempeh per sandwich)
1 package – 8 oz. tempeh
1 TB olive oil
1 TB low-sodium tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar*
1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard*
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp taco or fajita seasoning
1 avocado, mashed (or leftover guacamole)
2 slices, large beefsteak tomato
lettuce (bibb, romaine, baby romaine, etc.)
4 slices hearty bread
*Note: If you don’t have both, balsamic vinegar or dijon mustard, just use one. No big whoop. Just make sure you double the amount to make up for the missing ingredient. The reason why I use both is that I like the viscosity. The taste should not be sacrificed at all.
- In a small bowl, stir together olive oil, tamari, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, maple syrup, and taco or fajita seasoning. Stir well until the taco/fajita seasoning dissolves.
- Cut the tempeh in to 4 sandwich-sized slices by cutting the length in half and then the width in half. If this is too difficult, you can cut them into small pieces by cutting 1/2-inch flat pieces along the length of the tempeh. Place the tempeh pieces on a shallow dish. Evenly pour the marinade from step one over the tempeh slices. Move and flip the tempeh pieces around to coat them evenly. Allow it to marinate for about 20-30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a baking pan with parchment paper. Arrange the tempeh on the baking pan. Evenly pour any excess marinade over each of the slices. Bake for 10-15 minutes on one side until the bottom is golden brown. Flip them over and cook on the other side for another 10 minutes.
- While the tempeh is baking, prep your other materials. Wash and slice the tomatoes and lettuce. Wash, peel, and mash the avocado if using. Add a pinch or two of salt to the mashed avocado.
- Lightly toast the bread. Smear the mashed avocados or guacamole on one side of each slice. Alternatively, use avocados on one slice and mayo and/or dijon mustard on the other. I personally like the extra zing of dijon. Now build the sandwich according to your preference. My preference is in this order: bread smeared with avocado or guacamole, layer of lettuce, 2 pieces of tempeh, tomato slice, another layer of lettuce, and finally the other slice of bread with some dijon or avocado/guac. Enjoy! I’m dipping mine in ketchup!
To Gluten or Not to Gluten? Not all tempeh is gluten-free. Some have barley or other ingredients with gluten in them. So please read the label if you want to avoid gluten. And of course, you’d have to use gluten-free bread!