The first time I saw Tabitha Brown’s hilarious (with a capital H) review of Whole Foods Market’s Vegan TTLA Sandwich (tempeh bacon, tomato, lettuce, and avocado), I knew I wanted to taste it for myself. Brown taped the video while inside her car and trying to sneak a bite in before the gym. That one bite turned into multiple bites, which turned into a viral video with more than 1.4 million views and 11,000 shares. It also sparked a food challenge on social media that continues to grow each day. And if a sandwich — a vegan sandwich at that — can create such buzz, I want dibs. So, I made the sandwich at home with minimal changes. Here’s what happened.
At first glance, I noticed the bumpy texture of the Lightlife Organic Smoky Tempeh Strips Fakin’ Bacon and how tender each one was when I slid them out of the package. I fried four slices in olive oil — a serving size yielding 12 grams of protein — for about five minutes. While they were cooking, I sliced up the lettuce, tomato, and avocado. Though the recipe called for vegan aioli, I couldn’t find any, so the night before I warmed up minced garlic in the microwave to make it into a paste. I combined it with two tablespoons of mayo, a generous drizzle of olive oil, and the juice of half of a lemon. I then toasted two slices of 12 grain bread. After spreading on my homemade garlic aioli, I added two halved tempeh slices so that they wouldn’t slide off the sandwich. Then I layered the lettuce, tomato, avocado, and the pickle based on Brown’s review to see what all the fuss was about.
Surprisingly, the first bite tasted strikingly similar to a traditional BLT. But as I continued to take bites, I noticed differences, like the fact that my tempeh (and this could be that I didn’t cook it long enough) didn’t have the crunch of bacon. I missed that quality, but in my opinion, that’s what made the pickle shine on the sandwich. After finishing the first half of my sandwich, I had to sit for a minute because I was full. With each bite, I realized how much I enjoyed the smokiness of the tempeh strips. The best way I can describe it is that taste you get after eating something with hickory barbecue sauce. It was different than anything I’ve ever tried before, but I really enjoyed it.
If I were you, I would DEFINITELY take Brown’s advice: “If you got a Whole Foods by you, go to the deli, ask for this TTLA, add a pickle, and watch your life change,” said Brown. Well, I can’t speak to its life-changing ability, but you will walk away with a more than satisfying meal and possibly a fan of tempeh, like me.
Would you try Whole Foods Market’s TTLA sandwich? Let us know @BritandCo.
(Photo via Whole Foods)