There are big flavors everywhere you turn in this tempeh sandwich.
Starting with the protein, there's not really any subtlety with the tempeh here. No gently enhancing its characteristics. Instead, you'll hit it with a good dose of Dijon-style mustard and fresh rosemary, plus a little tamari and sugar. The result is robust and heads straight for your pleasure center with no careful tasting required. Look at that gorgeous stuff.
Next, you'll add sauerkraut. It may already seem like there's a lot of acid piling up, but remember that between the tempeh, tahini, rosemary, and wheat bread, you have a lot of earthy and bitter elements in here that can stand up to the vinegar. The tahini gets a generous addition of lemon, but in the context of the sandwich, it keeps things bright without being sour (that's what the sauerkraut is for, of course). Along with the lemon, a nice sprinkling of smoked paprika is all you need to make this dead-simple tahini sauce your new favorite sandwich condiment.
Come fall, you may want to eat little else.
Rosemary-Dijon Tempeh Sandwiches with Sauerkraut and Smoky Tahini Sauce
makes 2 large or 4 smaller sandwiches
For the tempeh:
8 oz tempeh
1 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP Dijon-style mustard
1 TBSP water
1 tsp reduced-sodium tamari
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp natural cane sugar (evaporated cane juice)
salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For the tahini sauce:
2 TBSP tahini
2 TBSP lemon juice
2 TBSP water
1/4 tsp fine sea or kosher salt
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
Begin by preparing the tempeh. Turn the block on its thin side and carefully slice in half. Leaving both halves still stacked, place the block back in landscape position (long end toward you), and cut in half. Cut each half on the diagonal to make eight triangles.
Place tempeh triangles in a dish in a single layer. Sprinkle a generous pinch or so of salt over them and repeat with freshly cracked black pepper. Whisk together oil, mustard, water, tamari, rosemary, and sugar. Pour slowly over tempeh and spread it out to cover the surface entirely. Cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and let marinate 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, carefully whisk together all tahini sauce ingredients until smooth.
When tempeh is ready, heat a nonstick pan over medium heat until hot. Shake excess marinade off tempeh (there won't be much) before adding each triangle, marinated-side down, into the hot pan—it should sizzle at once. Let cook, undisturbed, four minutes (less if you start to smell danger of burning). While cooking, use the small amount of extra marinade to lightly coat the bare side of the tempeh while it cooks—proceed carefully, as the pan is hot and the oil can sputter. Flip tempeh and cook another four minutes, or until golden on the underside.
Assemble sandwiches, using a generous spoonful of tahini sauce for each, and grill or press until bread is crisp and golden. Serve at once.