Sunday, April 10, 2011

Now You Will Make Some Vegan Club Sandwiches

vegan club sandwiches

Last week I had to do a day of driving around with a coworker to handle some work stuff. The coworker I was with is an older guy, who doesn't fully "get" the idea of eating vegan, but is pretty easy going about it. Especially since he grew up on a beef farm. Anyway, we were in a rural area about an hour away from the city and I was pretty certain there wasn't going to be any exciting lunch options for me. "Just pick whatever place you want," I told him. "I'm just going to end up eating french fries anyway." And so it was. I had some french fries and he ordered a club sandwich.

Ahhh, the club sandwich. I'd forgotten such an excellent thing existed. I started thinking about ways to veganize it right away.

Lucky for me, we were having people over for a second annual games night, which meant I needed to get a party menu together. Last year I did vegan BLTs, so it seemed like vegan club sandwiches were the perfect sequel.

vegetables with white bean dip and some vegan club sandwiches

In case you don't know or don't remember, a traditional club sandwich goes like this: bread, tomato, lettuce, chicken, bacon, bread, tomato, lettuce, chicken, bacon, bread. And between all of those things is mayonnaise. Yikes. For my version, I could have easily (albeit expensively) used a bunch of processed fake meats to replace the real meats, but I decided not to go that way. I chose tofu to replace the chicken and decided that avocado would be a tastier and healthier stand-in for the bacon than any packaged fakey bacon on the market.

And wow. This was a Sandwich of the Gods. I got a lot of "I can't believe this is vegan!" and a bit of "What did you do to this tofu?" which are some of my favourite food compliments. And even though I used up an entire loaf of bread to make the sandwiches for the party, the Man of Science said he wished I'd made twice as many. I don't think he actually wanted to share them with our guests.

vegan club sandwiches

Vegan Club Sandwiches

(The labour intensive part of this is the cooking and marinating of the tofu, so we'll start there)

1 1/2 blocks of tofu (using blocks that are approximately 1 pound each)
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
1 tbsp sage
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp thyme
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced or grated with a Microplane grater
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
a few grinds of fresh black pepper

You're going to use a technique for the tofu called "dry frying", which makes the tofu suck up marinade like nobody's business.

First, cut the tofu into rectangular slices, approximately 1/4 inch thick, and lay them out flat on a cutting board. Cover them with a tea towel and place other cutting board on top of them, then weigh that down with something heavy- cans of beans, cast iron frying pans, The Riverside Shakespeare- whatever.

After ten minutes or so, heat a non-stick or well seasoned frying pan over medium heat and release your tofu from its crushing bondage. Lay a single layer of tofu slices down on the hot pan and use a spatula to press them slightly. The tofu will release more water and make a hissy, whistley, sizzling noise.

After four of five minutes of cooking and a second pressing with the spatula, flip the tofu. It may stick slightly, but if you're careful you should be able to flip it without calamity. (I do this with my cast iron pan and haven't had any trouble)

Squish the tofu with your spatula again and let it cook for a minute. Repeat. Then remove tofu from the pan.

When all the tofu has been dry fried, spread it in a shallow pan.

Mix remaining ingredients and pour the mixture over the tofu.

I left mine in the fridge all day before serving it, but I've also dry fried and marinated tofu for stir fries in the past and left it marinating for only twenty minutes or so before eating it and it was still delicious.

When your tofu has marinated to your satisfaction, you can start assembling your sandwich. Here's mine:

tofu club

I cut the crusts off the bread (just a regular nine-grain loaf) and toasted it before I started assembling. I also realized that I had no mayonnaise and so shockingly expertly whipped some up from scratch with some soymilk, lemon juice, salt, paprika, and vegetable oil poured very slowly into a blender where all the other ingredients were being swiftly blended. It worked really well and I'm as surprised as you are.

All in all, it was a very fun night and these sandwiches were the belle of the ball. I'll be posting more about party food as the week goes on. Wait until you see the desserts.



VeganLisa said...

I'm looking forward to all the party food posts. They may just be the excuse I need to host a party of my own. I think I could build a soiree around a club sandwich.

sweetpea said...

Thanks for the dry frying info, I have been experimenting with tofu and this explanation was perfect

foodfeud said...

They sound great. Love the diagram, ha! I actually "created" a vegan club sandwich not long ago but never actually made it! Maybe I should uh do that.

Robin said...

Ha! Post-frying marination! And I thought I already knew all the tofu tricks...Love your blog, thanks for another awesome post!

Jacqueline said...

That sounds amazing and I do love avocado. Swiped some tonight while I was preparing something for my toddler. I am going to give this marinade a go and must try this sandwich. Thank you so much :)

Esen said...

These look incredible!! nice work!!


theravegan said...

These sandwiches look fabulous! I haven't cooked tofu that way and it looks wonderful. Can't wait to try it!

Lisa said...

looks great! actually made vegan BLTs this weekend! exactly the same but made my own tempeh bacon! :) delish!

tweal said...

Yummy stuff. I was pretty addicted to vegan blt's a while back, and I think I could easily take these up instead.

clairefromsandiego said...

I just made these. And, umm, yeah, delicious. You win. Now I have to try the mayonnaise trick for round two today - no vegan mayonnaise in my area. Thank you!

KB said...

A good healthy sub for bacon-y flavor in veg sandwiches is a sliced tomato sprinkled with smoked salt or smoked paprika and salt. That's been my tofu benedict jam. Of course, you should still keep the avocado too.

Allysia said...

I made this today and we really enjoyed it! Logan tasted the tofu and said, "is this a chicken imitation?" The flavors are spot-on. I'm definitely going to use your dry fry idea and your marinade in future food endeavors!

Alex said...

All right. So your blog has enabled me to transform the way my family eats. Straightforward, tasty results with descriptions, instructions, and musings that are far from a burdon to sift through. You have turned me on to a preparation that finally enables me to enjoy tofu (my 22 month old will happily eat a bowl of boiled tofu cubes). I cut the tofu very thin by lying my knife on its side, propped up by its own handle, with the tip of the blade propped up on and gliding over the handle of a wooden spoon - this produced somewhat consistent results with thin slices coming from the bottom of the block. I then cut these slices in half to form triangles and proceeded to dry fry at my range's med-low setting. I let the tofu triangles dry out completely, flipping a few times and pressing throughout. After the triangles were completely dry and a bit crispy I cooled them and then I popped them in my toaster oven with a very light sprinkle of pepperjack daiya. I dipped in a spicy guacamole/salsa verde concoction that I found bagged in the refrigerator section of the market. These were exceptional, simple, and healthy snacks (the guacamole/salsa verde mixture has about half the fat and calories of normal guacamole, and the spiciness allowed me to be fully satisfied by a smaller-than-normal amount). I highly recommend this prep to anyone who may be missing nachos and cheese, for reasons of health or other reasons. P.S. My natural inclination was to add beans and or salsa, but the tofu still retained enough of its chewiness that beans were not missed. The protein certainly isn't lacking in these, but the fiber and veggies would be nice additions.