magic on toast

it's called a TLT: tempeh, lettuce and tomato. no need to gussy it up, perhaps just some sprouts or a few slices of avocado if you've got any around. but the real beauty of this sandwich echoes the ethos of the meat-y one it's modeled after - 3 ingredients that cooperate flawlessly. i've made this sandwhich more times than i can count, but every time i take a bite, it feels like the first time. oh, and like so many other things, homemade tempeh "bacon" is vastly superior to anything store bought. plus, you can spice it up however you like! below are some directions.

how to make tempeh "bacon" or smokey tempeh strips or whatever you wanna call them (loosely based from a recipe in deborah madison's vegetarian cooking for everyone):

- in a small bowl, stir together a spoonful of tomato paste (ketchup will do if you're in a pinch), and a few tablespoons of soy sauce and blackstrap molasses. try to get it well combined. you can add a drop of liquid smoke, too.

- cut up the tempeh into very thin strips. if you've got an awesome sharp knife, now is the time to use it.

- gently sautee any combination of sliced onion, shallot, fresh ginger or garlic in olive or safflower oil. at this point you can also add a bay leaf, some peppercorns, a clove, rosemary, chili pepper flakes or anything else your fake bacon lovin' heart desires.

- add the tempeh to the pan and then pour your molasses juice all over it. carefully toss it all together, trying to evenly coat the tempeh pieces.

- cover the pan, and let it simmer for awhile. you have to give the tempeh some time to absorb all the flavors.

- in another 15 minutes, prep you fixins. control yourself! like i said before, it is imperative to resist the urge to get all fancy. it's called a TLT, not a TLTOMASPP. one of those P's stands for pickles.

- assemble and tear it up! best lunch ever. also, you can eat the garlic, ginger, onions or whatever aromatics you added. they are intense but supremely savory little nuggets.


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