From a hectic week at the office to traveling back to Alabama to spend time with family and acquiring a chest cold that offered opportunities to alternate between Darth Vader’s bass and Minnie Mouse’s squeak whenever I spoke, I haven’t found much time to devote to recipe experiments during the past two weeks. However, before my travels I was able to sneak in a new sandwich filling recipe that will help those vegans out there get the protein and flavor most plant-based sandwiches can only offer through processed meat substitutes.
By now you’re familiar with my quest for vegetarian and vegan umami ingredients. For me, the biggest reason vegetarian and vegan recipes fall flat is a lack of umami. Most meat eaters don’t concern themselves with umami since it’s a flavor that’s found naturally in many animal products. For vegetarian and vegan cuisine, though, it’s not enough to toss a handful of vegetables and cooked beans on a plate and call it good. You need to think strategically and integrate certain vegetables, spices, and sauces that excite the tastebuds often reserved for a nicely seared steak.
The creators of Thug Kitchen know all about the importance of umami, and today’s recipe, Smoked Almond and Chickpea Salad Sandwich, brings soy sauce, garlic powder, nutritional yeast, and red onion (all key umami-rich ingredients) to your sandwich plate. I fiddled with the ingredient portions to calibrate the flavors to my liking, so if you’re a cookbook purist, pick up your own copy of the Thug Kitchen Cookbook.
Smoked Almond and Chickpea Salad Sandwiches
(adapted from a Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook recipe)
Makes enough for 8 sandwiches
Quick Smoked Almonds
– 2 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
– 1/2 tsp olive oil
– 1 tsp soy sauce, tamari, or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
– 1 tsp maple syrup or other liquid sweetener
– 2 tsp nutritional yeast
– 1 tsp smoked paprika
– 1 tsp garlic powder
– 3/4 cup raw almonds
The rest of the Sandwich Filling
– 3 cups cooked chickpeas (Two 15-oz cans of chickpeas, drained)
– 2 avocados
– 3 TBS lemon juice
– 3/4 cup chopped red onion (about 1/2 medium onion)
– 1/3 cup chopped fresh dill
– 1/3 cup chopped celery (about 2 ribs)
– 2 tsp of your favorite hot sauce (I used Sambal Oelek.)
– 3/4 tsp salt
– Ground pepper to taste
– 8 slices of sandwich bread, toasted (or make as much as you need and refrigerate the filling until you make more sandwiches)
– Dijon (or whole-grain) mustard, lettuce, and tomato (If you’re not vegan, a slice of Swiss cheese is a nice addition.)
1. Heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line pan with parchment paper.
2. To make the almonds: Mix together all the liquid ingredients in a small bowl and combine the nutritional yeast, paprika, and garlic powder in a separate bowl. Grab the almonds, add them to the liquid bowl, and stir that together to make sure all the almonds are covered. Scoop out the almonds, add them to the bowl with all the dry seasonings, and stir that sh*t around until they are covered. When they look all seasoned, scoop them out and lay them on the baking sheet. Toast them in the oven for 10 minutes, stir them around, and then put them back in the oven for 5 more minutes. Take them out and let those sons of bitches cool.
3. While all that sh*t is happening, add the chickpeas, avocado, and lemon juice to a big bowl and mash the f*ck out of them. Some chunks are fine, whatever you like. Fold in the onion, dill, celery, hot sauce, salt, and pepper, then mix it all together.
4. Once the almonds have cooled, chop them up and add them to the bowl.
5. Serve up this badass filling on some toasted bread with Dijon mustard, lettuce, and tomato. This is best enjoyed the day it’s made; it keeps fine in the fridge but you might lose some of that crunch.