Is it picnic time yet? We’re hanging for a bit of a sunny day off (I tend to photograph for the blog whenever the sky is blue) to be able to stroll around the hills of Paros, which are breathtakingly beautiful at this time of the year (I will post a photo on Instagram once we do). We’ve had a lot of rain and tempestuous weather this winter, which means that the island’s hills are now carpeted with an array of colourful wild flowers. Everything is lush green with pools of pink, purple, yellow and white springing up all over the place.
We are ready to get walking again especially that hunting season is now officially over too! Yay! I absolutely abhor hunting for obvious reasons. Apart from hunters needlessly killing all the wild birds and small animals in sight, they are also a menace to anyone who simply wants to enjoy nature.
We went walking in the hills in the middle of December. Not only was the entire path littered with empty bullet casings and we walked to the intimidating sound of rifles, but towards the end of our walk we had to cower and run off the path as the guns started going off in ridiculously close proximity to us despite diminishing daylight. This was the last walk we did and it would have been brilliant if not for constantly worrying about whether we will have our brains blown out by accident.
One of my favourite things about walking is a chance to have a lunch with a view, in beautiful surroundings. Is it me or food always seems to taste better in nature, especially once you’ve put some effort in first. Whenever we go walking, I never leave my house without a sandwich, a salad box or at least a cookie to sweeten the afternoon 😉 (how very typical, eh?) These vegan BLT sandwiches with bacon tofu are perfect hiking food! Very portable and filling! They don’t taste bad at home, but they taste even better at the end of a long walk, promise!
- 3 slices of your favourite bread (GF if required)
- 1 ripe tomato
- romaine lettuce
- ½ ripe avocado (or vegan butter spread)
- baby rocket / arugula (optional)
- a handful of radish sprouts (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- vegan mayo, shop bought or recipe below
- 200 g firm or extra firm tofu, pressed*
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp liquid smoke
- 2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
- 2 tsp tomato paste
- ¼ cup / 60 ml aquafaba (chickpea water)
- 4 tsp lemon juice (or apple vinegar)
- ½ tsp ground mustard
- ¼-½ tsp salt, more to taste
- ¼ tsp powdered garlic, more to taste
- ¾-1 cup / 180-240 ml of mild tasting oil (canola, grapeseed, safflower or delicate olive oil)
- pepper, to taste
- Heat up the oven to 180° C / 350° F and line a baking tray with a piece of baking paper.
- Cut the tofu into six slim (0.5 cm / 0.2″) slices. How you achieve that depends on the dimensions of your tofu. I cut mine in half and then cut each block into three thin slices widthwise.
- Mix all the marinade ingredients together and place in a shallow dish. Place tofu pieces in the dish and spoon the marinade over the pieces to coat. Leave aside for an hour or two (the longer the better, of course), spooning the marinade that pools at the bottom of the dish over the tofu now and then.
- Brush the baking tray with a little bit of oil and place marinated tofu on top. Pop in the oven and bake for 25-30 mins, flipping the tofu pieces to the other side, halfway through the baking time.
- Change the oven to the grill / broiler function. Stick the tofu under the grill for about 3 minutes on each side. Keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t burn. What you want is for the tofu to dry out on the outside but to remain moist in the middle.
- Put aquafaba, lemon juice, salt, ground mustard and garlic powder into a tall container and blend together with an immersion blender.
- Once combined and slightly frothy, start adding oil VERY SLOWLY while blending at the same time. The oil should be literally trickled in (rather than poured in) so that the mayo starts to emulsify properly.
- Once your mayo gets all thick and creamy, stop adding oil. Season your mayo with pepper and extra salt if needed. Transfer to a clean jar and refrigerate it for a few hours so that it thickens further.
- Toast the bread – I like to toast mine on a lightly oiled griddle pan.
- Slice avocado and spread it on the toast. You may want to lightly sprinkle it with lime (or lemon) juice to prevent discolouration.
- Top with lettuce, tomato, bacon tofu, sprouts and a dollop of vegan mayo.
*To press the tofu, you either need a special tofu press or you can do it with a bunch of kitchen towels and a heavy weight. Wrap your tofu in a few layers of paper towel, place it on a plate and weigh it down with something heavy (like a heavy chopping block, for example). Once the paper towel becomes wet, change it for a new one. Repeat a few times until the paper towel stays almost dry. Pressed tofu is tastier as it absorbs flavours better.