Creamy whipped black beans are slathered onto bread slices that are stuffed with baby spinach, juicy tomato slices, and smoky tempeh bacon to make these hearty and flavor-packed vegan sandwiches.
I have a thing for grilled vegan sandwiches lately. Okay, so maybe I've had a thing for grilled sandwiches forever, but once I realized how easy it was to make a grilled vegan sandwich without vegan cheese, but that still satisfies the need for crispy bread stuffed with savory goopy fillings, I became a little fixated on the idea.
So that's how I ended up with this whole black bean sandwich idea. It's not as weird as it sounds! I made a couple of grilled vegan sandwiches using avocado as the gooey stand in for cheese (here and here). Then I moved on to beans. I even made a couple versions of vegan quesadillas using beans and avocados. I was playing around with the idea of a vegan grilled BLT, wondering what I should use instead of cheese when it hit me that a Tex-Mex inspired black bean filling would be awesome.
These were some of the heartiest, most satisfying, flavor-packed vegan sandwiches I've ever eaten. Next time someone accuses you of eating nothing but bird food as a result of your vegan diet, feed them this sandwich. It's insane.
The beans get whipped up in the blender with some cumin and lime, although if you're feeling a little lazy I bet you could get a way with hitting them a few times with a fork or potato masher. Then, they're slathered on both slices of bread — this is the key to keeping the sandwich together! Top if with some tempeh bacon, juicy tomato slices, and spinach (or your favorite sandwich greens!). You'll end up with one heck of a flavor-packed vegan sandwich that's super filling to boot — I wasn't hungry for a half a day after polishing off this sucker.
Grilled Black Bean & Tempeh Bacon Sandwiches
For the Tempeh Bacon
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1 8 ounce package tempeh
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
For the Black Bean Filling
- 1 14 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ jalapeño pepper minced (optional)
For the Sandwiches
- 6 to 8 slices sandwich bread
- 2 medium tomatoes, sliced
- ½ cup fresh baby spinach
- Jalapeño slices, optional
- Oil, for grilling
To make the tempeh bacon, stir the soy sauce, maple syrup, vinegar and liquid smoke together in a shallow dish. Cut the block of tempeh in half, width-wise, then cut each half into about 8 thin strips. Place the tempeh into the dish with the soy sauce mixture. Allow it to marinate for about 30 minutes.
Coat the bottom of a large skillet with vegetable oil and place it over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the tempeh slices and marinade. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the marinade has dried up and slices are crispy on the bottom. Flip and cook about 5 minutes more, until the strips are browned on the other sides. Remove the tempeh from the skillet and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
Place the beans, lime juice, cumin, garlic and jalapeño, if using, into a blender and blend until smooth (or leave it a bit chunky if you like). Season the mixture with salt to taste.
Slather each bread slice with the black bean mixture, then pair up the slices and stuff them with tempeh bacon, tomato slices, spinach, and jalapeño, if using. Lightly oil the bottom of a large skillet (you can use the same one that you used for the tempeh bacon, just wipe it out a bit first), and place over medium heat. Place the sandwiches into the skillet and grill for about 4 minutes on each side, until browned. You can optionally cover the skillet during cooking to help heat up the sandwich fillings.
Divide the sandwiches onto plates and serve.