A vegetarian TLT sandwich inspired by the classic BLT sandwich. This version includes chipotle-marinated tempeh alongside oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, a bit of shredded lettuce, and a generous avocado slather on a thin slice (or two) of great bread.
At this point in time, no other sandwich I make is more requested. Instead of a classic BLT sandwich, I make a TLT - tempeh, lettuce, and tomato. Not an original concept, but my secret is this...every component needs to be over-the-top flavorful.
My version features chipotle-marinated tempeh alongside oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, a bit of shredded lettuce and a generous slather of avocado on a thin slice (or two) of great bread. For anyone looking for a hearty, substantial, satisfying, nutritious, and meatless lunch - it's hard to beat .
You'll need to plan ahead a bit to marinate the tempeh and roast the tomatoes, but I promise it's well worth the effort, and if you make extra you'll have sandwiches for the week. Tempeh is easy to find in most Whole Foods Markets or natural food stores - here's a link to another favorite tempeh recipe in case you are interested in other ways of using it.
I enjoy this TLT sandwich on a big, ultra-thin slice of whole wheat walnut bread - toasted until crisp. You can go the traditional sandwich route, or enjoy it open-faced. And now I'm thinking that miniature versions of these might be great bite-sized party food?
If you're game for more tempeh inspiration, don't miss out on these tempeh recipes. And be sure to pay special attention to this Spicy Tempeh Crumble Bowl, and this Tempeh Taco Salad.
TLT Sandwich Recipe
I buy the Lightlife organic flax tempeh or the grain version. A bit of crumbled goat cheese might be good too.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup shoyu sauce (or soy sauce)
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar (or maple syrup)
- 3 tablespoons adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers
- 8 ounces of tempeh, cut into 1/3-inch thick strips
- 1 small basket of cherry tomatoes (2 cups)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil olive oil
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar (or maple syrup)
- scant 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1 small head of romaine lettuce, cored, then cut into 1/4-inch ribbons
- 1-2 large avocados, mashed with a pinch of salt just before assembling
- 4 or 8 extra-thin slices of hearty whole grain bread, well toasted
Whisk together the 3 tablespoons of olive oil, shoyu, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and adobo sauce. Pour 1/3 of the tempeh marinade into an 8x8 baking dish (or something comparable) - you want a dish that is just big enough to hold the tempeh in a single layer - this way it will be fully enveloped by the marinade. Pour the remaining marinade over the top of the tempeh, cover and keep in the refrigerator for a couple hours, overnight or until ready to use.
While the tempeh is marinating, go ahead and roast the tomatoes. Heat the oven to 375F. Cut each tomato in half and arrange them in a large oven-proof baking dish. Mix together the olive oil, sugar, and salt and pour this over the tomatoes. Gently toss them a bit, making sure they all get coated, finishing with each tomato facing cut-side up. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or so, until the tomatoes are shrunken and sweet.
When the tempeh is done marinating heat a large pan over medium-high heat and cook the tempeh slices for a few minutes on each side. You may need to do this in batches if you don't have a big enough pan. Set the tempeh slices aside until you are ready to assemble the sandwiches.
To assemble each sandwich take one slice of bread and slather a generous layer of mashed avocado. Place a small helping of the shredded lettuce on top of the avocado, a few tomatoes, then a few slices of the tempeh, and more tomatoes. Enjoy either open faced or topped with another avocado-slathered bread slice.
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This looks really great. I might take it even further with a fried egg.
I just made a loaf of bread using your cornbread recipe (which came out more like chive bread than corn bread, but no worries). It toasts marvelously, by the way, and I could see it being tasty with this recipe!
I made this tonight, it was excellent! I can't wait to have another sandwich tomorrow.
I have made the Vegetarian Times version of this sandwich hundreds of times and I love it more each time. Next time I am totally going to roast the tomatoes first, great idea.
WOW the photograph of that sandwich is mesmerizing.
I have never had tempeh, what does it taste like? Is it like tofu?? I may have to branch out and try something new!
Even as an omnivore, I love tempeh. But, I get into a rut and end up serving it the same way again and again. This could get me out of my rut, and also use up some of the tomatoes overflowing in my garden. Thanks Heidi!
I haven't made tempeh in a long time, and this may just be the recipe I need to get my rear into tempeh eating again. And I ADORE avocado on BLTs. Nothing beats it, except the tomatoes. :)
Oooh, wow! You had me at avocado! I've ever tried tempeh, but I'll give anything a spin at least once. Might be good with your cumin/curry guac recipe too. Yum.
This looks mouthwatering. Will definitely make it sometime this week. What a great idea. Thanks.
I had a tempeh reuben today at a roadside cafe in the Finger Lakes region of N.Y., where I currently live. It was delicious, mainly because as Heidi said in her post, each component was very flavorful. Big slices of soft rye bread baked that day, homemade saurkraut, lightly marinated tempeh, and a zesty vegan russian dressing - I held off on the swiss cheese but it would add another flavor dimension. With a cherry ginger ale and some tamari almonds on the side - it was a perfect lunch respite from work! Now I have to try a TLT...
I last ate tempeh in Indonesia in 1984 and have not forgotten the taste. Thank you for reminding me! I will go look for it at Wholefoods. Tks again and TC
Can I use regular full sized tomatoes? If so should I change the cooking time? Thanks for the great looking recipe!
Not the same Stefe - the cherry tomatoes make the magic here.
Wow, Heidi, this is my fave sandwich too, though I must admit that I do a much-simpler version with Lightlife Smoky Tempeh strips (aka Fakin Bacon), lettuce, tomato, and vegan mayo on multigrain bread. -- I LOVE the idea of roasting the tomatoes first, and a schmear of avocado just sounds divine. Can't wait to make YOUR version!
Sarah and Jennifer Von Ebers: Tempeh is made from soy beans, but has a very different taste and texture from tofu. I can't think of anything to compare the texture to, but it's much less squishy and silky than tofu, more like slightly firm beans (maybe edamame?) It also has a bit more flavor than tofu, but still soaks up marinade well. It makes a good meat-substitute in sandwiches like this, stir fry, etc. I'm a vegetarian, but my boyfriend is an omnivore, and while he shys away from tofu he loves tempeh. Tempeh isn't very expensive - just buy a pack and give it a try!
WOW! My husband-to-be and I were just talking about ways to save money and NOT eat out all the time. This is a great remedy -- sandwiches for lunch and dinner!! Thanks again, Heidi, for all of your genius :)
I ate a lot of temphe growing up in Japan. The taste of it can vary by the marinades and flavorings you add to it. It is pretty resourceful for those who want to avoid meat.
That looks fabulous I have not cooked with tempeh in a while will try tomorrow when my husband is at work he doesn't like to try fun new foods, but my kids do, we have a really nice health food store here in MN so this is a great reason to go there. What types of balsmic do you use? I have tried some of the favored ones like fig etc Thank you Kay
Thanks, Heidi! I just drooled on my keyboard! :)
This looks really good. Anything with avocado is a hit in my home. Thanks.