A vegan BLT for the new age

IMG_7906I grew up loving BLTs. My mom used to try to get restaurants to make them for me for breakfast. “You have toast, don’t you?” “Bacon?”

Of course, I’ve left bacon behind, but not my love of this ingenious sandwich. So how to enjoy the crispy, salty taste without the actual bacon? After eating a wonderful tempeh club at Marie Catrib’s, I decided to riff on their lentil and wild rice ‘bacon.’ Here’s what I have so far.

Wild Rice Krispies (An excellent substitute for bacon)

1 cup wild rice
4 cups water
1 ‘beef’ bouillon cube (I use Cele-fibr)
1 cup brown lentils.

Rinse the wild rice and add to the water, along with the bouillon cube. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a low-boil (some call it a simmer) for 20 minutes.

Add lentils, stir. Simmer for another 20 minutes. At this point, both the wid rice and the lentils should be fully cooked. If they are a little al dente, that’s fine. Overdone? That’s okay, too. When you tilt the pan, there should be a small amount of water. Also fine. Let cool.

Depending on the size of your food processor, you may want to do this in two batches. If so, mix all ingredients below in a small bowl and divide in half. Don’t flip out if you don’t have all the ingredients. I am aiming for clean ingredients that have the least amount of processing, so I choose ground lapsang souchang tea as opposed to liquid smoke (but you can substitute). No ume plum paste? Add a little more soy sauce. No coffee or tea? Leave it out. Is that better?

1 flax egg*
1 tbsp tamari or shoyu (soy sauce)
2 T coffee or black tea
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. ume plum paste
1 tsp. lapsang souchang tea, ground or 1 tsp. liquid smoke
2 tsp maple syrup

In the food processor, grind the ingredients into a spreadable paste. I still am not sure about the cooking times, so keep a close eye on them and take them out when they reach the consistency you like.

Dehydrator Method
Spread the rice-lentil mixture onto two paraflex sheets to about ¼ inch thick. Dehydrate at 115 degrees for about three hours. Flip over and score into bacon-sized pieces. Dehydrate another three hours (approximately). It is done when it is dry and crisp enough to snap off. If it looks like the surface of the moon, however, you’ve probably gone too far.

Oven Method
Spread the rice-lentil mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet to about ¼ inch thick. Bake at 150 degrees for about an hour to 90 minutes. Flip. Score. Repeat. Baking the mixture is a bit of an art and depends on the heat source and what temperature capabilities you have. You will want to try this out in your own oven and check every 15-20 minutes.

*1 T ground flax seed mixed with 3 T warm water and allowed to gel for five minutes.

Of course, the real star of this sandwich is pretty evident in this photo.


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