For health and other reasons, weíve been cutting down on our meat and dairy intake while transitioning to a more plant-based diet. Toasted and other forms of hot vegan sandwiches meet our new menu requirements and make for convenient meals on the fly.
Developing a repertoire of options that would appeal to us as lifelong meat and dairy lovers was quite a chore however, particularly since we donít like to rely too heavily on processed foods or ďfakeĒ meat replacements. Although, in the interest of full disclosure Iíll admit to the occasional bag of soy crumbles and box of fake chicken nuggets when the cravings strike.
Here are ten vegan sandwiches weíve either already enjoyed, or will be implementing in the very near future. All of them can be created without commercial meat substitutes or fake cheese. It was important to me to create a list of options that could be achieved in most locations, regardless of whether or not folks had access to specialty items at their grocery store.
Toasted Mushroom Hoagie
I first tried one of from the menu of a veg-friendly chain restaurant we tried out on a trip to Orlando. The Mellow Mushroom. It was so scrumptious, I had to try replicating it at home. We did so this weekend and loved them. Basically, you slice a six-inch whole grain sub roll nearly all the way through lengthwise and fill with organic baby spinach leaves, sundried tomatoes in oil and grilled mushrooms. The restaurantís version also had feta crumbles, but we just left those off. The sundried tomatoes really have more than enough flavor impact to make these decadent.
Basically, I put a few of the sundried tomatoes in oil on each side of the sub roll while toasting in the toaster oven.† Either grill or sautť baby portabella mushrooms in balsamic for zing, and add them after the toasting process, along with the baby spinach leaves. Leave the sandwich open on the plate when you serve and grind some fresh sea salt and black pepper over the top.† It looks much more decadent upon serving this way.
Breaded Eggplant Sub
Basically, weíre talking eggplant Parmesan without the cheese. Although honestly, when the breaded eggplant is prepared well, it has more than enough flavor for us. †We toast our sub rolls in the manner mentioned above, and simply heat pre-breaded eggplant cutlets in the oven or microwave (depending on whether or not weíre making a large batch for company) along with some jarred organic marinara spooned over the top of each cutlet. When both sub rolls and cutlets are ready, we assemble the sandwiches and add organic baby spinach leaves if they are on hand. Here is a link with directions for making vegan eggplant Parmesan.
Personally, we are only minimizing our meat and dairy intake at this point, so Iíve been using the pre-breaded eggplant cutlets from Michael Angeloís that I can get at our local warehouse store in bulk for a great price. This makes for a meatless dinner on the fly thatís every bit as tasty as my husbandís old favorite Ė meatball subs.
This one has similar flavors to the toasted mushroom hoagie I listed earlier. The difference is that you would use the giant portabella mushroom caps and grill them as you would a burger. Top with various add-ons such as banana pepper rings, red onions and your condiment of choice to jazz it up and place it in a whole wheat bulky roll. †Pair this with side dishes you would normally serve with burgers. Another similar idea is this suggestion for a vegan French dip sandwich from Veg Web. Canít wait to try it out here at home.
Grilled Veggie Sub
I developed a fondness for grilled vegetables when we lived in Italy, so tossing some on the BBQ back here in the States seemed like a good idea to me. Simply emulsify some olive oil and organic balsamic vinegar using an upside down canning jar and your blender and use it as the basting sauce for your veggies. Add sea salt and black pepper if you like.† Roast long red sweet peppers on the grill along with thinly sliced zucchini and eggplant. Stuff a mixture of all three into toasted subs along with sundried tomatoes in oil, pitted black olives and organic spinach leaves. This would also be good on ciabatta rolls.
Iíve recently embraced cooking with pineapple as a tasty meat reduction strategy. †Remember the peanut-lime coleslaw and grilled pineapple steak menu pairing I suggested in 12 Cheap Pineapple Recipes? †This idea for vegan sandwiches is basically a twist on that idea. Most articles Iíve found online simply suggest adding a slice of grilled pineapple to their regular hamburger. While thatís a tasty way to go, itís not the purpose of this article. Either slice off a round of pineapple and grill it with the center in, working around any tough parts, or hack out the center with your paring knife. Grill the pineapple until you have marks without mush and top with a slice of roasted red sweet pepper and sautťed mushrooms.
Black Bean and Guacamole Wrap
Whip up your favorite recipe for black beans in the slow cooker and place in wraps made from this dry mix recipe for homemade tortillas. Top with chopped scallions and this easy guacamole recipe. If you have the time and inclination at the end of the day, make up the tortillas fresh. If not, whip them up earlier in the week to have on hand and reheat them a bit in the microwave or oven.
If youíre traveling in the Middle East, grabbing a falafel sandwich off the street will already feel quite familiar. If not, and you love the taste of falafel, try this recipe for vegan falafel in burger form and top with hummus or guacamole and leafy greens.
Vegan Meatball Sub
For those who just love the idea of having little round nuggets of yum in their sub roll slathered with marinara sauce, this oneís for you. Hereís a link to a recipe for making vegan meatballs in a batch.
DIY Veggie Burgers
Since we havenít found that many pre-packed veggie burgers with a taste we enjoy, exploring the DIY veggie burger option is high on my list. Iím currently in the process of searching out easy, affordable recipes I can make in a large batch and freeze ahead. You know me, I like to have a full range of options in case one doesnít work. Two Iíve found thus far? Spicy kidney bean burgers and walnut veggie burgers. When I have more of a varied list, Iíll do a separate round up article.
Love pressed and grilled sandwiches? Try a panini. While there are tons of vegetarian options out there, itís been difficult to find an option for a vegan panini. Hereís a flavor pairing I came up with. Sun dried tomato sandwich spread with artichoke hearts and sliced pitted black olives.
These vegan sandwiches represent foods and flavors we enjoy as meat lovers, so I trust they will be helpful ideas for those attempting the transition to a more plant-based diet. Here are some additional sandwich ideas. Although they are not necessarily vegan, some of the add-on tips are applicable to people with different eating habits.
Related Reading: Vegetarian Dishes for Meat and Taters Lovers
Photo Credit: Slettvet
This article was submitted to the June 16, 2010 edition of the Wanderfood Wednesday food carnival.