These vegan BLAT's are one of my all-time favourite things to eat for lunch in the Summer. The sweet & juicy heirloom tomatoes, salty & crunchy coconut 'bacon', crisp lettuce, creamy avocado and tangy basil cashew mayo sandwiched between fluffy & toasty bread create the ultimate plant-based sandwich (all the adjectives!). Toast up the bread, put everything in separate containers & pack it all up for a beach picnic. Just assemble before eating.
Heyyyy 2017 world! It's been a while. With all the Christmassing and celebrating I neglected this poor blog space. I was also feeling pretty down in the dumps with the post-holiday blues (anyone else?!). I'm only just starting to push myself – force myself – back onto my feet. The thing that got me going was a trip to Sydney (with all the vegan food – hellllooo gigi's! my favourite restaurant ever), and a visit to the Marrickville organic markets that we also visited back in September. They have incredible produce there that we just can't seem to get in Newcastle, including these seriously perfect heirloom tomatoes.
They are so pretty. Is there a prettier fruit / vegetable? I dare you to find it. I don't think a prettier one exists. I want to freeze their aging somehow then frame them and hang them on the wall to look at all day. I suppose a framed picture will do though. They also taste mighty good. I knew I wanted to make a BLAT (also known in my head as the queen of all sandwiches) with them as soon as I saw them glinting in the morning sunlight on that beautiful market table display.
We also picked up HUGEEEE bunches of the most fragrant basil from the markets, so basil mayo was a natural addition to the BLAT (plus i've seen it around on a few BLAT recipes and it always sounded like the best part of the sandwich to me).
Also, I've been making coconut 'bacon' way too much lately, since making the crowd-pleasing caesar salad from the oh she glows everyday cookbook (so good) that I added coconut bacon to for Christmas lunch (that I actually ended up eating as leftovers the next day since I filled myself up with vegan cheese & spinach-leek-artichoke dip. oops.) so I was always going to make something with it for my next blog post. This coconut bacon is really addictive. It's smoky and salty and crunchy and provided you don't burn it like a couple of the batches I made, it's a very good addition to the queen of sandwiches.
Chris was snacking on some at work, and a few of his work friends, who are very wary and unsure of vegan food and often joke about Chris' 'rabbit food', were curious. He convinced them to try a bit without telling them what exactly it was and said that each of their faces lit up with surprise as they crunched on their 'bacon'. Apparently they loved it and wanted the recipe! The whole thing made me excessively happy and made me very keen to get back to blogging.
I've used a fresh, fluffy wholewheat sourdough for my BLAT's, toasted until golden brown but only on the inside. This is a genius trick that I picked up from Food 52 that just made perfect sense to me when I read it. That way you bite into soft, fluffy bread (no splintering bits of toasted bread to ruin your mouth and your BLAT eating experience), and the toasted bread on the inside stops everything from becoming soggy and provides the perfect amount of crisp toastiness. I refuse to make a BLT or BLAT any other way now that i've discovered this superior way.
Thanks again Food 52 for the a+ tip. I'm currently having a big website romance with Food 52 actually…I think it may be my favourite food website. It's like my wordly cooking friend who collects all the best tips and tricks from her travels and conversations with people around the world and who then gossips them to me while we whip up something delicious in the kitchen. So wonderful. If you aren't already hooked, I sincerely suggest you do so.
Anyway, back to the BLAT's…make them, eat them, love them, take them on a beach picnic, take a photo, tag me #theflouredkitchen @theflouredkitchen or leave me a comment and tell me how they go, I'd love to see your creations! Happy 2017 and here's hoping that this year is a better one that the last. To progress, to goals achieved, to imperfection, to joy, love, happiness & kindness, to delicious plant-based eating and to stress-free living. To a good year!
Heirloom Tomato BLAT with Coconut Bacon + Basil Mayo
Yield 4 people
vegan, dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free if using gf bread
These vegan BLAT's are probably my all-time favourite Summer lunch food. The sweet & juicy heirloom tomatoes, salty & crunchy coconut 'bacon', crisp lettuce, creamy avocado and tangy basil mayo sandwiched between fluffy & toasty bread create the ultimate plant-based sandwich. Toast up the bread, put everything in separate containers & pack it all up for a beach picnic. Just assemble before eating!
- 1 cup cashews, soaked in cold water overnight or in boiling water for 2 hours
- 1–2 garlic cloves, peeled & chopped
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp. white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt or black salt for an eggy flavour
- 1/3 cup water
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp. nutritional yeast (optional)
- 1/2 cup basil leaves, packed
- 2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
- 2 tbsp tamari or liquid coconut aminos
- 3 tsp. liquid smoke
- 3 tsp. maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 8 thickish pieces of very fresh, fluffy wholemeal or white sourdough bread per person (or gluten free bread for gf)
- Ripe heirloom tomatoes (you will need enough for about 2–3 thick slices of tomato per sandwich, or more if the tomatoes are small)
- A big head of iceberg or cos lettuce, washed and torn into separate leaves
- 1–2 ripe avocadoes, halved, flesh scooped out and sliced
- olive oil
- 1 – 2 garlic cloves, peeled & cut in half
- sea salt & cracked black pepper
- Throw all of the mayo ingredients except for the basil into a blender (preferably high-speed) and blend on high speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the basil leaves and blend for a few seconds until just chopped through the mayo (i like the mayo to be specked with little bits of whole basil, so i don't blend it for too long). Taste, add more lemon / salt if you feel it needs it, then pour into a container / jar and cover with a lid. Place in the fridge for at least an hour to chill, thicken and to allow the flavours to meld.
- Preheat the oven to 180 celsius / 350 fahrenheit and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Place the coconut flakes in a large bowl.
- Mix together the tamari, liquid smoke, maple syrup, garlic powder and paprika and pour over the coconut flakes. Toss to combine making sure that the flakes are well coated. Leave to marinate for at least 15 minutes and up to an hour, then spread the flakes out evenly on the lined baking tray.
- Bake them for about 12–14 minutes, giving them a stir half way through. Rotate the pan in the oven as needed to avoid hot-spots and burnt bits. Watch them very carefully from the 10 minute mark as they can burn very quickly, they will crisp up as they cool. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Use immediately, or store them in a freezer-safe container or bag and just take them out of the freezer as needed (they don't need to be defrosted).
- Heat some olive oil in a pan, then toast the bread slices on just one side (you will need to do this in batches) until golden brown & crunchy. Remove from the pan and lightly rub the toasted side of the bread with the cut end of the garlic clove. Repeat with all slices of bread.
- For each sandwich, layer the slices of 1/4 – 1/2 an avocado on one piece of bread on the toasted side (the untoasted side will face outwards), sprinkle on some coconut bacon, then layer on the lettuce & heirloom tomato slices. On the top piece of bread, spread a generous amount of basil mayo on the toasted side then place on top of the tomato. Slice the sandwich in half and serve asap.