Sunday, July 08, 2012

classic vegan TLT plus 10 tempeh sandwich ideas

TLT: Tempeh bacon, lettuce and tomato on toast with Vegenaise.  

Like many of you, my life has been incredibly busy lately – working 40+ hours at my "day job," juggling several vegan projects, running 45 miles a week training for fall half-marathons – all while trying to keep my social life alive and spending [quality] time with F-stop. I am absolutely not complaining; I am blessed to have my health, a job I love, a wonderful boyfriend and the bestest BFFs ever.

But all this "busy fun" doesn't leave much time for vegan weeknite cooking. Last week, I felt bored with my usual rotation of quickie summer weeknight dinners. Inspired by a package of Fakin' Bacon that I'd bought on sale, I made myself a TLT – tempeh, lettuce and tomato – in less than 10 minutes. 

You simply pan-fry the tempeh bacon in a bit of oil, toast some whole grain bread, slather each side with Veganaise, then build your sandwich, layering the veggies and tempeh. If you're not pressed for time, you can make your own tempeh bacon. Isa Chandra Moskowitz includes a fab recipe in her freshman book, Vegan with a Vengeance.

I am so thrilled to have rediscovered this diner-inspired sandwich. Despite its humble three-letter name, the TLT tastes complex: the juxtaposition of textures [grains, crunchy lettuce, succulent tomatoes] and flavors [smoky, sweet, nutty, creamy] perform a heartfelt happy dance on your palette. And TLTs are just the beginning – the variations are limited only by your imagination.

I'll share 10 other vegan tempeh sandwich combo ideas, right after a word from our sponsors: Bossa Nova, Pablo and Buttons. 

Sometimes Pablo and Bossa Nova get into a fight and have to sit in the penalty box.

Buttons is getting older. My vet guesstimates she's in her late teens. She was ill for a few months but is doing much better and is happy to be spending her retirement with us. She loves to cuddle. Hard to believe this is the kitty who hid behind the water heater for weeks.

Pablo says "Take time to smell the eggplants."

And now back to our regularly scheduled blog post. I give you 10 more, three-letter vegan tempeh sandwich combo ideas. Remember: vegan food doesn't have to be complicated or involved. Try one of these no-brainers, and add your own ideas as comments.

1. TAO: Not quite as Eastern as it sounds – tempeh bacon, avocado and Vidalia onion.
2. TNT: Tempeh bacon, nachos, and tomatoes.  Add a bit of hot sauce to your Vegenaise. Crunchy and spicy!
3. TAB: Tempeh bacon, sliced apple and sliced beets. Sweet and creamy.
4. TOC: Tempeh bacon, oregano, vegan cheddar cheese. Keep it simple, sweetheart.  
5. TEA: Tempeh bacon, edamame [slightly mashed] and alfalfa sprouts. Packed with protein!
6. TOM: Tempeh bacon, olives [sliced] and lightly sauteed mushrooms. Belly buster.
7. TAD: Tempeh bacon, apricot jam, dandelion greens. Add a pinch of curry powder to your Vegenaise. A tad [groan) reminscent of a chutney.
8. TAZ: Tempeh bacon, arugula, zucchini [raw, thinly sliced]. 
9. TAG: Tempeh bacon, artichoke hearts [drained and dried slightly with a paper towel], garlic [minced and stirred into your Vegenaise. Also add Mediterranean herbs like dried or fresh basil and oregano] 
10. TTT [aka, Triple T]: Tempeh bacon, tomato, vegan tzatziki. You can skip the Vegenaise. 

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Anne said...

These sound great! I have held out for a while and have been afraid to try Tempeh, but maybe this will inspire me!

urban vegan said...

Anne: Tempeh is great. Fakin' Bacon is a good intro. Regular tempeh is also great in chili. I usually steam regular tempeh first.

Bianca said...


And great ideas on the tempeh sandwiches! The TOM and the TOC sound the best to me! But I always love a good ole TLT.

Wendy said...

Where were this post 5 days ago when I desperately tried to find something to do with my first package of tempeh EVER? I actually ended up doing TLT's - and they were amazing.

urban vegan said...

Wendy--that is too funny. Well at least now you can do something different with your second through tenth packages :)

Amey said...

OH, I'm grateful for the TLT reminder! I love sandwiches in summertime, and I especially love TLTs. Good idea!

Also, sweet Buttons. I'm so glad he's doing alright. I feel like I've known him for so long! :)

Kumudha said...

I'm now tempted to try tempeh...

Millie said...

love the cute.

RachelR said...

Hi Dynise,

My name is Rachel Rothstein and I am an advocacy intern for Animal Place, a farmed animal sanctuary in Grass Valley, CA. I have a favor to ask of you, could you please email me at when you get the chance? Thank you!!

urban vegan said...

Rachel: My email is What's up?

East Village Vegan said...

Hi Dynise,

Yes, Terri's buffalo sandwich is tasty! I also like their breakfast wrap and quesadillas. I'll have to try Lemon Hill. Thans for the tip.

Dennis said...

I love the kitty pics. I'm going to see if I can find the fake bacon here because I love bacan but not allowing myself to have it on my diet.