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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Vegan Salad Bread Bowl

So I made... something... the other day.  For the most part, it defies categorization, but if I had to call it something, I suppose you could call it a 'bread bowl'.  Maybe you'd call it a salad?  Or even a deconstructed veggie burger maybe... I dunno.

Does everything need to be labeled something?

It was food.

And it was good.

Surprisingly good, actually.

The trick to putting new things together, especially vegan things, is to try and ensure complementary flavours and textures.  

A bowl of stewed lentils can be as delicious as can be, but on its own, runs the risk of becoming monotonous.  Just as some fresh veggies and lettuce without a crunchy seed or grain or nut of some sort, just ends up feeling... lost.

Well, like I said, I'd never made this before, but in my mind, prior to the making of it, everything seemed like it would go well together.

So I cooked it up.

What it is basically, is an open-faced lentil and tofu sandwich.... but here's the more involved deets:

A truncheon of bread (a quarter of a long Italian or French loaf, cut lengthwise), lightly grilled and brushed with olive oil and garlic like you would when preparing bruschetta.

Slather thickly with hummus.

Layer with copious amounts of lettuce (I used romaine, but I think boston leaf would have been excellent).

Top with grilled tofu slices and grilled grape tomato halves.

Finish the whole thing off with a generous topping of stewed black lentils.

Altogether it has a very earthy and almost meaty flavour, was very filling, and surprisingly yummy!

OK, here's some pictures of the step-by-stepping.


I only started taking pictures half-way through this meal, because I didn't think it would be post-worthy at first.

Fortunately what is not documented with pictures, is pretty self-explanatory.

First I rinsed and soaked a quarter of a cup of dry black lentils, and then cooked them in about 3 cups of lightly salted water, until almost all the water was incorporated and the lentils were al dente (soft, but with a pleasing bite to the centres).

Next, I heated up my large cast iron grill.

First I sliced my bread, I wanted long truncheon style slices, remember, so I cut an entire half of a loaf in half lengthwise.  These I then brushed in olive oil and then grilled lightly, just long enough to get some nice brown grill marks on the bread.  Immediately after this I carefully but forcefully rubbed into the grilled sides about a clove and a half of garlic each.

If you've never done this before, it's actually kind of satisfying.  One minute you have toast and raw garlic, but after a minute or less the garlic has magically disintegrated and you are left with garlic toast!

Anyway... I put the toast truncheons on plates, and slathered them with a good amount of fresh hummus, and then a large amount of romaine lettuce.

Next I sliced one small (150g) package of silken tofu into 1cm thick slices, lightly brushed each side with a touch of avocado oil, and then carefully grilled them on the griddle.

Now... let me say... I don't really love tofu.  I prefer to get my protein from other sources (like pulses), but I had some, and I was bringing out the griddle anyway (grilled tofu is—to my mind anyway—
somehow better and tastier than other morphologies of tofu) so I figured why not...

It can be a bit of a pain to keep the tofu in one piece, but being put on a sandwich like this was, I figured it wasn't the end of the world if they ended up a bit crumbly anyway.

And here's where my photos have caught up.


You can see that the tofu actually doesn't look that bad... almost rather attractive.  Love what grill marks can do!

After the tofu, I grilled some grape tomatoes.  After lightly washing them, I sliced them in half, brushed them in the tiniest bit of oil and salt, and then just added them to the hot griddle.

Incidentally I also grilled some carrots at the same time, just as a side dish (not on the sandwich thingies).

Grilled nicely in a bit of oil and salt, and then topped with some smoked paprika!


So, on to the sandwiches go those tomatoes.

Just haphazardly... no need for Pythagorean precision or anything...

And lastly, to top it all off, whenever your lentils have finished cooking, stir in a small pat of vegan margarine or vegetable oil, and some salt and pepper, as well as any spices of your choosing, really.

Adding a bit of fat (oil) to lentils is nice, and can dramatically transform them not just in flavour but also in consistency and texture.

I recommend it.  Vegan margarine works quite well, but if you really want to make them pop, try a bit of butter and/or cream.

Anyway... after cooking that in for a couple of minutes, spoon over your waiting truncheon thingies.


Again... not too sure how to classify this dish, but I do know that it was:

a) delicious, 
b) nutritious,
c) well-balanced, 
d) easy to make, and
e) super vegan and good for you.