Recipe: Open-Faced BBQ Tempeh Sandwich

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Photo by (c) Sara Remington


From Bryant Terry's wonderful Vegan Soul Food, this grill-friendly recipe is perfect for sunny days. Don't be afraid of tempeh! Cooked right, it's wonderfully textured and savory--pleasing to meat-eaters and the rest of us. Try it out at your next barbecue, and make sure to include the carrot-cayenne coleslaw.

Chef Terry writes:

I created this sandwich in July 2007 for "Pit Stop," an event celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the Berkeley Farmer's Markets (get is, barbecue pit/peach pit]. This tempeh recipe is an adaptation from a recipe included in one of my favorite cookbooks--The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley. Instead of a regular bun, I served the coleslaw and tempeh fingers atop focaccia that was donated by a local bakery. The sandwiches were a bit hit with vegans, vegetarians, and meat eaters alike.

If you aren't grilling it you can pack the tempeh in a baking dish, cover with the barbecue sauce, and bake at 350°F for 1 hour.

Makes 5 servings.

    • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 3/4 cup tamari
    • 1/4 cup canned tomato sauce
    • 1 large chipotle chile in adobo sauce
    • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1/4 cup agave nectar
    • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
    • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
    • 2 tablespoons water
    • 1 pound tempeh (2 8-ounce packages], cut into 1/2 inch fingers
    • 5 4x4-inch pieces of focaccia
    • 4 1/2 cups carrot-cayenne coleslaw

In a blender, combine the apple cider vinegar, lime juice, tamari, tomato sauce, chile, olive oil, agave nectar, cumin, cayenne, and water to create a marinade. Puree until well combined. Set aside.

Preheat grill.

In a large baking dish, place the tempeh fingers in one snug layer. Pour the marinade on them and tightly cover the dish with foil. Transfer to the grill, close, and bake for 50 minutes, turning the tempeh once halfway through.

Remove the baking dish from the grill. With a slotted spoon, transfer the tempeh fingers back to the grill and cook until sizzling and slightly charred, about 1 minute per side.

While the tempeh is grilling, put the focaccia on the grill and cook until warm and slightly charred, about 2 minutes per side.

Construct the sandwiches by adding 3 to 4 tempeh fingers to each square of focaccia and topping with coleslaw.

From the book Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright (c) 2009.

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Max Fisher is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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