Tuesday, August 11, 2009

angst also doesn't like butter lettuce

He thought he would, or perhaps he thought it was just mottled spinach, but when Mister gave him a piece, he sniffed it, licked it, made a valiant attempt to eat it, but ultimately gave up and walked away.

Tonight we had an "easy" dinner. That's what you're supposed to say when you make sandwiches for dinner, but it's not always true - some sandwiches are much easier to make than others. For example, it is easier to make a peanut butter sandwich than it is to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It's not difficult to make a PB&J, but it is more complicated because it involves more ingredients (and if you're a little nutty - no pun intended - it could involve more utensils, too) than a simple peanut butter sandwich. So, as dinners go, tonight's was quite simple, but I would like to say that our sandwiches were complex, as fist foods go.

Tonight we had Smoked Apple Tofu sandwiches. I had this little storm in my brain that made me think of the marinade - I love the combination of sweet and savory - and then I thought of fun things to do with other parts of the sandwiches. I would like to preface this with the assertion that I'm actually not a huge fan of sandwiches. Sure, they're convenient and easy to carry on picnics, but it's very rare (for me) to come across a sandwich that really makes you pause and say "Wow, that's quite a sandwich!" I have had two such experiences in my life, which combined to create tonight's dinner in my brain.

In 2003 (yes, it really was that good of a sandwich), my husband and I took a trip to Lake Tahoe, which involved flying on Delta before all airlines started going cheap on the airline food provided on cross-country flights. I still remember how good my sandwich was, because I think I told the airline no less than five times that my husband and I required vegan meals. In addition to a really good cookie and a few other tasty bits, they gave us these amazing sandwiches. I want to say the sandwich filling was in a pita, but if it was a pita it was a very good pita. It was a bunch of grilled vegetables, primarily squash, but really good. It was just very bare yet surprisingly flavorful - enough so that I remember it 6 years later! The second sandwich is made immortal in a blog from last week - I'm still impressed with how tasty that sandwich was.

So my brain put together a marinade, putting all these memories together, and tonight I made tasty sandwiches for dinner.
There isn't really a recipe, but I'll tell you what I did:
I combined 8 oz apple juice (no sugar added) with 2 Tbsp liquid smoke and 1/2 tsp salt in a spouted measuring cup and stirred it all together to make the salt dissolve. I drained a 14 oz container of extra firm tofu and cut it lengthwise into 8 slices and laid them on paper towels to drain while I prepped the other toppings. I heated a skillet on medium-high heat and placed the 8 tofu slices upon it, then poured a small amount of the marinade onto each slice (and was delighted by how quickly each slice absorbed it!) and let it cook. Total cooking time for the tofu was 15 minutes, flipping the tofu about every 4-5 minutes to brown/crisp the tofu evenly, and pouring more of the marinade on as seemed appropriate. By the end of the 15 minutes, I had incrementally poured out all of the marinade and the tofu had soaked it all up and become browned and crispy on the edges and looked like this:
I then took two slices of multi-grain bread and spread about 1 tsp of hummus on each slice. I then laid a couple of leaves of butter lettuce on one slice of bread, topped the lettuce with two pieces of tofu, then laid some very thinly sliced carrots and cucumbers atop the tofu and laid the other slice of bread on top. I peeled both the carrot and the cucumber and then cut them both in half crosswise. I then took the vegetable peeler to each half and made paper-thin slices lengthwise (okay, they were more like cardboard-thick, but that doesn't sound as poetic). The tofu came out really well, and Mister was impressed, so I consider this dinner a success, even if I didn't make the side dish I had intended to make with it (it was a long, exhausting day).

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