Introducing the ZBLT
You can be a vegan and have your bacon, too!
The Zucchini Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato (ZBLT) Sandwich – crispy zucchini bacon, crunchy green lettuce leaves, and vine-ripened tomato slices piled high on whole grain toasted bread slathered with mashed avocado or Just Mayo – a plant-based mayo by Hampton Creek – is the vegetarian and vegan’s answer to the classic BLT.
The essential ingredient in the ZBLT is the zucchini bacon – an ingredient that not many cooks attempt to make outside of a vegan restaurant because the trick is to turn a a green vegetable that is primarily water (95%) into a crisp and crunchy, slightly sweet and salty, smoky faux meat. The task is to obtain both texture and taste which is why there is so little written about zucchini bacon. It’s just not easy..well, it’s actually super easy but time-consuming in terms of waiting for both the zucchini to marinate and then to bake. But, it’s well worth the wait.
The zucchini bacon does not taste like bacon from a pig so if you’re expecting a meaty pork taste, this recipe won’t provide it. Instead, the flavor is clearly zucchini (albeit light) with a smokey maple taste and crisp texture that will add a whole new dimension to a sandwich.
The trick to making delicious zucchini bacon is threefold:
- Use a mandolin to slice the zucchini lengthwise into very thin long pieces (that are in the shape of bacon slices);
- Marinade the zucchini slices for at least 12 hours. Because the zucchini is primarily made of water, only a small amount of the marinade will absorb although the flavors are absorbed into the zucchini if marinated long enough; and
- Slow bake (at 200 degrees) the zucchini for about 4 hours to obtain a crisp and crunchy texture, turning the zucchini pieces halfway through to allow the zucchini to fully cook and brown on both sides.
Zucchini Bacon (makes about 30 slices with enough marinade to use for the next batch)
- 2 medium zucchini about 8-12 inches long, thinly sliced lengthwise (each zucchini should yield about 15-17 slices)
- 2 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup or your favorite sweetener (i.e. brown rice, agave, etc)
- 2 tablespoons of liquid aminos, low sodium soy sauce, or tamari soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke (I use Cedar House Natural Hickory Liquid Smoke available through www.amazon.com or www.vitacost.com)
- Salt and Pepper
- In a small bowl, blend the olive oil, syrup, soy sauce, vinegar and liquid smoke.
- Pour 2 tablespoons of the marinade on the bottom of a 9-12 inch casserole pan.
- Layer zucchini slices across the bottom.
- Sprinkle pepper across the zucchini slices and drizzle a teaspoon of the marinade over the zucchini slices.
- Place another layer of zucchini slices across the bottom.
- Again sprinkle pepper across the zucchini slices and drizzle a teaspoon of the marinade over the zucchini slices. Repeat until all the zucchini slices are used.
- Drizzle the remaining marinade over the zucchini slices.
- Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 12-15 hours.
- Once or twice during the marinade period, remove the casserole pan from the refrigerator and gently tilt the pan so that a spoon can scoop up the marinade. Drizzle this marinade over the top of the zucchini slices. Put the plastic wrap back on and return the pan to the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
- Cover a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Gently remove the zucchini slices and place them on the parchment paper (about 15 slices per cookie sheet) leaving a bit of space between each slice and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Store the remaining marinade in an airtight container in the refrigerator to use for the next batch.
- Bake in the oven for 4 hours, turning the pieces halfway through to ensure both sides turn brown and crispy.
- Remove from the oven and gently place the zucchini slices on a paper towel to drain and cool.
The Zucchini Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwich (ZBLT)
- 4 slices zucchini bacon
- lettuce leaves (romaine, butter, leafy, spring mix)
- tomato slices
- 2 slices of whole grain bread, lightly toasted
- Just Mayo, optional
- Avocado slices or mashed avocado, optional
- Slice of red onion, optional
- Place the toasted bread on a plate.
- Spread Just Mayo on one or both sides of the toast or consider avocado slices or spread mashed avocado on one side.
- Lay the tomato slices on top of the avocado and then place four slices of zucchini bacon on top of the tomatoes.
- Add the lettuce leaves followed by red onion (optional).
- Place the top piece of toast on top and then slice in half.
- Serve immediately.