Wherein Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day.
Around the time of my birthday, I won a giveaway from Weekly Vegan Menu for Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day! But then I forgot that I had entered it, so she picked a new winner. Once I realized what a total butt I had been (I felt bad for not responding, I don’t want anyone to think I enter things haphazardly and don’t care whether I win or lose – in fact I care a lot, since I almost never win anything!), I emailed her to apologize. She emailed me back saying that the new winner hadn’t responded either (sheesh!), so she went ahead and sent it to me anyway. Hooray! I probably would have bought this book regardless, since I love sandwiches almost as much as I love soup (and I love them especially together), but it’s always fun to win something and free cookbooks are pretty sweet. Now, as much as I adore sandwiches, I hadn’t been eating many at the time I received the book because I was in a bit of a rut. I needed a creativity boost! Thankfully, Tami (writer of the most awesome Vegan Appetite) and Celine (writer of the equally most awesome Have Cake, Will Travel) gave me the kick in the sandwich pants that I needed! This book is full of sandwich masterpieces, ranging from breakfast, dessert, open-faced, classic remakes, and more. Not to mention recipes for breads and seitan-esque stuffers. So much joy in one book! Now that I’ve blithered on for a bit, on to what I’ve made so far!
One of the first recipes that caught my eye when I first leafed through this glorious tome was the Navajo Tacos. It’s in the open-faced section and is comprised of a quick skillet-fried flatbread, chickpea chorizo, and plenty of fresh toppings. It came together quite quickly, especially the chickpeas, which happened to be my favorite part. I think they would be a stunning addition to nachos or burritos. I liked this as a whole, but I had problems with the flatbreads. While incredibly flavorful, they were really tough. I had problems cutting through them the first night, and after they’d sat in the fridge overnight, they became hard as rocks, which was sad. They were tasty rocks, but I must have done something wrong, because I figure they were supposed to be soft and lovely. **Update** I did do something wrong. Celine commented at the end of this post that perhaps I handled them too much, and I immediately remembered that I did. I had to really smoosh them to get them into big enough circles, and there is a specific bit about being sure not to knead them. So! Don’t over handle your flatbreads!
When I first saw the recipe for Green Monster Bread, which is tinted from the addition of arugula or spinach, I knew I had to try it. I found myself with a ton of veggies and a block of tofu that needed using, so I went for the Green Monster in the Garden. It’s a tofu salad sandwich, but that description doesn’t do this sandwich justice. The tiny cubes of tofu are sautéed with seasoning and then added to a total smorgasbord of minced veggies.
To assemble, slices of the luscious green bread (sliced so well! stayed so soft!) are buttered with Earth Balance, the filling is piled on and topped with a tomato slice, and then the whole thing is grilled to get a nice toasty crust. Oh, decadence! This thing takes your usual tofu salad sandwich to a whole new level.
Plus, since it’s filled to the brim with tons of happy vegetables (even the bread!), I felt pretty darned good about eating it. Again and again and again. Also, the boyfriend really liked this one, even though there is cabbage in the filling. I used napa cabbage, since I needed it for the next recipe also, which is a little milder, so if you’re a cabbage-phobe, try that out! Also, it’s worth mentioning that I was out of dill pickles, so I substituted some dilly beans that my mom made this past summer and it worked just fine!
I had a big eggplant burning a hole in my crisper, so I decided to make the Asian Eggplant Sandwich next (in fact, the very next night!). Eggplant is sautéed with ginger and garlic and then tossed with a sauce made up of some things I never thought would go together, but do quite perfectly. It’s topped with a napa cabbage slaw and then piled high on a baguette. I can’t find whole wheat baguettes in stores around here, so I made my own, the mini baguettes from 500 Vegan Recipes. This whole thing (and the one before) would have come together really fast if I had baked the bread ahead of time. Really, though, there is nothing like a sandwich made from bread that’s fresh out of the oven.
Also, look at the size of this thing! The recipe normally makes four sandwiches from one baguette, so I got two out of each of my minis. It was delightfully spicy, and the eggplant was tender. The crunchy, cool slaw was the perfect companion, all held lovingly between halves of soft, crusty baguette. I think that the suggested substitute of portobello mushrooms would be awesome with this flavor combination as well. Also! The boyfriend really liked this one too! Napa cabbage is a miracle worker. Again, worth mentioning: I used unseasoned rice vinegar and soy sauce instead of tamari and sriracha instead of sambal oelek, because those are what I had on hand. No problems that I could taste!
Another quick note: both of those bread recipes call for instant yeast, which I never have. If you’re like me, then don’t think you can’t make them! All you have to do is proof your yeast in the warmed water (add the sweeteners to the water mixtures also) before mixing it all in with the dry ingredients. I always use 2 1/4 tsp of yeast for any bread recipe, no matter how much instant or bread machine yeast is called for, and it’s never failed me. Proofing your yeast is very easy! Just sprinkle it on top of the warmed water mixture (sometimes I wait to add the oil, sometimes I don’t – with the green monster bread, I made the wet puree, added the sugar, and then sprinkled on the yeast), give it a quick stir to get it all wet, and then wait about 5-10 minutes. Once your yeast gets nice and foamy, you’re good to go! Just proceed with the directions from there.
So! Now! Go out and buy this fabulous book, because, whoa. It’s just amazing.