Bánh Mì Sandwiches

Photo: Randy Graham, Valley Vegetarian

Perhaps the last time to use the grill this season!

Bánh mì is Vietnamese for bread and is also associated with a single serving baguette made into a tasty sandwich.

My first taste of bánh mì was when Robert made one for us on one of his visits to Ojai in between classes at school up north. He described it as a crisp, light roll with a cacophony of flavors inside. It is all that and more and as Robert says, “It is to die for”.

Although a bánh mì sandwich typically consists of one or more meats, vegetables, and condiments, my version is vegan and includes a mushroom-lentil pâté, grilled tofu, and pickled vegetables.

To cut the prep time in half, I use store-bought pâté. If you have the time, however, I recommend my recipe for mushroom-lentil pâté below*. For chiles, I use marinated jalapeño slices (nacho style) but you can use the long and narrow green Thai chili peppers if you like. Thai peppers are tasty but very hot.

Pickled vegetable ingredients:
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 large daikon radish (peeled and cut into matchsticks)
2 medium carrots (peeled and cut into matchsticks)

Grilled tofu ingredients:
14 ounces extra firm organic tofu
1 cup marinade (such as Soy Vay Island Teriyaki)

Additional ingredients:
6 mini baguettes
½ cup Vegenaise
1 cup mushroom pâté
1 medium cucumber (peeled and cut into matchsticks)
¾ cup marinated jalapeño slices (drained)
Cilantro (leaves only for garnish)
Sriracha sauce (as a condiment)

Pickled vegetable directions:
Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Put the sugar and vinegars in a mixing bowl. Pour hot water into bowl and stir to mix. Add radish and carrot matchsticks. Cover and set aside to cool. If making this a day or two ahead of time, transfer picked vegetables and liquid to a glass container (I use mason jars), cover and place in refrigerator until ready to use.

Grilled tofu directions:
Remove tofu from package and rinse under cool water. Cut it into 4 slices (about ¼-inch think and 4×4-inches square). Lay the slices on 4 paper towels and cover with another 4 towels. Press down to absorb as much liquid as possible. I put a cutting board on top of the towels, then put a weight on that, and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Remove the towels and cut each square in half. You should have 8 rectangular slices.

Pour marinade into a 9×13-inch baking pan and layer the tofu slices over the top of the marinade. Cover, set aside, and allow to marinate for 30 minutes or more. Heat a grill on medium-high heat and lay tofu slices on grill. Baste with leftover marinade. Grill for 4 minutes and turn over. Baste and grill for another 4 minutes. Each slice should have nice charred grill marks. Remove from grill and set aside.

Assembly:
To assemble the sandwiches, toast the baguettes in the oven until warmed through and the outside is crisp. Slice baguettes in half, leaving a bit of crust on one side to act as a hinge.

Spread a tablespoon of Vegenaise on the bottom of each baguette. Spread a couple of tablespoons of pâté on top of that and add 1½ slices of grilled tofu. Top that with the pickled vegetables, cucumber, chiles, and cilantro. Fold the top over the filling and serve with Sriracha sauce on the side.

* Mushroom-lentil pâté ingredients:
12 cremini mushrooms
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 small sweet onion (diced)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
2 cups cooked brown lentils
1 cup toasted pecans (chopped)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon tamari
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary (minced)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme (minced)
2 tablespoons fresh sage
2 teaspoons brandy
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Mushroom-lentil pâté directions:
Remove the stems from the mushrooms and wipe mushroom clean. Heat the olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent – about 6 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until they’re soft and cooked through – about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Using a food processor, combine the cooked lentils, nuts, lemon juice, tamari, rosemary, thyme, sage, brandy, brown sugar, vegetable bouillon, and cayenne. Add the mushroom mixture and process until completely smooth. Add pepper to taste.

Scrape pâté into a serving bowl and refrigerate for a few hours, until firm. Any leftover spread will keep for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.

Note: One cup of dried lentils will make a little over 2 cups of cooked lentils. I generally use green lentils in my recipes because they tend to retain a firm texture even after cooking. For this recipe, I use brown lentils because I want them to be creamy when blended.

About Valley Vegetarian

Providing consistently good vegetarian comfort food recipes. Real food for real people.
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