Another round of satisfying soyfood sandwiches (our earlier tofu sandwiches post is one of MSV's most popular): Here, hardy tempeh gets rubbed with the time-honored combination of freshly cracked black pepper and fragrant coriander, and is then baked until gorgeous. Topped with sweet, crisp apple slices and a dead simple, dead fabulous spread made by combining nothing more than almond butter and the best stone ground mustard you can afford, this healthy hunk of nourishment on pumpernickel is seriously good. (We grabbed a jar of Lusty Monk from Just Ripe. Totally expensive, but a jar lasts a while, and not splurging on canned beans for a week or two will make up the difference for us. Worth it if you can indulge.)
The nuttiness of the tempeh really shines when paired with the spices and apples, but because it's still September, below this recipe is a variation using tofu, figs, and tahini. While both the proteins take a bit of time to prep--almost all inactive--they can easily be made in advance.
A final note, about almond butter: We prefer raw, unsalted almond butter in pretty much every situation. It's milder, subtly sweet, retains more almond flavor, and generally plays extremely well with others. Roasted almond butter will surely work, but the toasted-nut flavor will be more assertive. You may want to experiment with the ratio of almond butter to mustard if you use it.
Deli-Style Tempeh Sandwiches with Apples and Almond-Mustard Sauce
makes two very large sandwiches
8 oz tempeh
1 no-salt added vegetable bouillon cube
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp fine sea or kosher salt
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
1 1/2 TBSP freshly cracked black pepper
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 TBSP almond butter (see note above)
4 tsp stone-ground mustard
4 huge slices dark bread (from a 2-lb boule)
6-8 apple slices 1/4-inch thick (from about half an apple)
Steam the tempeh for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, place the bouillon cube in 1/2 cup water and heat until dissolved. Remove from heat. Transfer broth to a loaf pan. Stir in salt and liquid smoke.
Once the tempeh has steamed, carefully transfer it to the broth and let marinate 30 minutes, flipping halfway.
Preheat oven to 350.
Combine the pepper, coriander, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder. Remove the tempeh from the broth (reserve remaining broth) and rub the spice mix over the surface. Transfer to a pan, pat on any fallen spices, and drizzle 1 tsp oil evenly over the surface of the tempeh. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden.
Preheat a sandwich press or countertop electric grill with closing lid (or try the skillet-with-a-weight method, but you do want to press these sandwiches to toast and firm the bread and glue the whole thing together a bit.) In a small bowl, stir together the almond butter and mustard. Use the excess marinating broth to thin it to your desired consistency (we keep ours fairly thick) and divide the mixture between two slices of bread.
Slice the tempeh crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices and divide evenly between the two remaining naked slices of bread. Top with apples, sandwich, and press/grill.
Variation: Deli-Style Tofu Sandwich with Fresh Figs and Tahini-Mustard Sauce
Replace the tempeh with one pound of tofu, pressed for an hour. Make the same broth for a marinade as above, but increase salt to 1/2 tsp. Use a container that will leave the tofu half-submerged and marinate for 1 hour, flipping halfway (30 min won't ruin anything if you're pressed for time). Double the spice rub quantities and increase the oil drizzle to 1 TBSP before baking. Bake as above. Use a quarter of the entire baked tofu slab per large sandwich, slicing about 1/8-inch thick. Replace the apple with about two small ripe sliced figs per sandwich and substitute the almond butter with tahini.