Grilled tofu, bacon and avocado sandwich a tasty contradiction in flavors

The salty bacon and tofu are balanced by the avocado and cilantro, and adding bacon grease to the rolls provides an extra boost.

Ileana Morales | Special to the Times

The salty bacon and tofu are balanced by the avocado and cilantro, and adding bacon grease to the rolls provides an extra boost.

Bacon and tofu, as it turns out, can be friends.

There's a lot going on in this sandwich, which comes from a Sunset magazine feature, Tofu for Meat Lovers. The ciabatta bread is toasty and crisp. Thick slabs of tofu are charred and flavorful from a long bath in soy sauce, and a few sesame seeds stay on. The great thing about tofu is that it will absorb the flavors of whatever you add to it, which makes it incredibly versatile.

The bacon is surprisingly perfect against the tofu. That's why the avocado and fresh cilantro are a good idea, keeping the combination of salty tofu and bacon in check. The flavor of grilled zucchini isn't prominent but it plays its part. Some bacon grease on the rolls amps up the sandwich.

This intensely good but balanced sandwich makes a great weekend lunch. Around here, we don't believe that Jan. 1 calls for an immediate switch to ascetic dinners. I regret nothing from December. Not the cookies, not any extra glass of wine, and certainly not the second serving of rich tres leches.

This recipe is a reminder that warm winter days deserve meals from your grill as much as any July afternoon. Fire it up.

The list of ingredients isn't exactly short, but there's nothing difficult here. It's worth it. Have you ever had bacon and tofu together? If you've resolved to try new things this year, this contradictory sandwich is a good way to ease you in. It is crazy good. Fickle vegetarians and everyone else, enjoy.

Ileana Morales is a writer who cooks in a small apartment kitchen in Tampa with boyfriend, Danny Valentine, an education reporter for the Tampa Bay Times. For more of their kitchen adventures, visit Ileana's blog, alittlesaffron.com. She can be contacted at alittlesaffron@gmail.com.

>>MODERATE

Grilled Tofu Sandwiches With Bacon and Avocado

Thick slices of tofu are marinated in soy sauce and grilled before laying under salty bacon and a ciabatta roll. Fresh vegetables and creamy avocado keep it fresh.

14- to 16-ounce block extra-firm tofu

2 inches unpeeled fresh ginger

2 teaspoons sugar

2 pinches black pepper

¼ cup light soy sauce

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

1 tablespoon black sesame seeds

1 tablespoon canola oil

4 ciabatta rolls, halved, with some of the inside of the bread scooped out

2 zucchini, cut lengthwise to grill, and then cut into ¼-inch-thick slices

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

4 teaspoons Sriracha

A handful of cilantro, roughly chopped

8 slices cooked bacon, halved crosswise

1 ripe avocado, sliced

Cut tofu lengthwise to make 4 slices about ½-inch thick each. Place in a baking pan.

Toast sesame seeds in a pan over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so they don't burn.

Grate ginger with a fine grater until you have 2 teaspoons in a medium bowl. Whisk in sugar, black pepper, soy sauces, sesame seeds, canola oil, and pour it all over the tofu. Torn tofu to coat all sides. Marinate uncovered for 1 to 2 hours, turning tofu halfway through.

Sear tofu on a hot grill until tofu crisps up and has grill marks, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Reserve the marinade and toss zucchini in. Toast both sides of ciabatta rolls on the grill until crisp, using some reserved bacon fat to grease the bread if you'd like. Grill zucchini until tender and browned, about 4 minutes per side. Hang on to that marinade.

Spread about 1 teaspoon of mayonnaise on each half of the roll. Drizzle ½ teaspoon of reserved marinade and ½ teaspoon Sriracha on each cut side of the rolls. Sprinkle half of cilantro on bottom halves of the rolls. Add one slab tofu, 2 strips bacon, a few pieces zucchini, and a few avocado slices to each sandwich. If you want, you can split the tofu in half to arrange on the sandwich with the zucchini for a bottom layer before adding the other ingredients, which is what I did. Top sandwiches with the rest of the cilantro, the other halves of the rolls and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Source: Adapted from Sunset Magazine.

Grilled tofu, bacon and avocado sandwich a tasty contradiction in flavors 01/01/13 [Last modified: Friday, December 28, 2012 5:59pm]

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