Anatomy of a Vegan Sandwich

Mondays are usually a busy day for me, running errands and hitting up the farmer’s market and grocery store, which means when I get home in the late afternoon the last thing I want to think about again, is food. But you have to eat and since I’m not really a fan of fast food, it means I have to be creative. A lot.

Being creative doesn’t bother me but sometimes you just want something simple. For me, that means a sandwich. But I’m not talking about two slices of vegan lunchmeat on whole wheat bread. No, I’m talking about full on whole food plant based sammich. That kind of sandwich.

You can also call this the “kitchen sink” sandwich, as in it has everything in it, but the kitchen sink! Or as I sometimes like to tell my husband, “We’re having a salad sandwich.”

He rolls his eyes but that doesn’t make it any less true.

 

It starts with the bread.

Any good sandwich needs the perfect bread to act as its vessel. For this delicious deli style sandwich I chose potato rolls because I love potatoes and because this bread is just dense enough to soak up a little bit of red wine or balsamic vinegar, which we’ll get to later. Actually I love heading to the bakery to find different types of bread to see what I like. Just be sure to check those tiny labels to make sure they didn’t sneak any milk or egg in there.

The Perfect Tomato

There’s a little open air market up the street that sells the most amazing beefsteak tomatoes, or coeur de boeuf as they are sometimes labeled in supermarkets. To me, these are the perfect sandwich tomatoes and for the vegans in the room, it’s the perfect “meat” for a quick deli sandwich. Cut them into relatively thick slices and season with salt, pepper, garlic granules and basil on both sides and set aside.

Don’t forget the VEGGIES

When it comes to cucumbers, the answer is always yes. But if you’re like my sometimes finicky husband, feel free to use pickles instead of fresh cucumber slices. I tore off a handful of butter lettuce, rinsed & spun it until it was dry because I really don’t like wet lettuce and because the vinegar won’t stick to it as well if it’s still dripping with water.

Instead of using mustard and vegan mayo, I grabbed some carrot greens to make carrot green pesto. All you need is:

Carrot greens (a handful or two)

4 Garlic cloves (roasted or raw)

7 Mint leaves

1 Scallion, sliced

1 tbsp. Capers

Orange zest & juice

Drop it all into the food processor until it’s blended. Add more citrus or water if necessary.

carrot pesto recipe vegan

 

As you can see, I was pretty liberal with the pesto and again, the potato roll soaked up some of the juice from it so there was flavor EVERYWHERE!

Other Fixins

Once you have the sandwich basics settled, it’s time to dress it up! I added a few shavings of cheese by using the potato peeler or the slice option on your grater. I rarely use it, but it was a nice addition with the pesto and tomatoes.

Sprouts are your friend and don’t let anyone tell you any differently. I grab a container every trip to the store because they are excellent on salads and sandwiches, and they help aid digestion, contain a ton of nutrients (vitamins A, B, C & E for starters), fiber and even protein. Experiment with different sprouts too, because they do taste different.

Add whatever else makes your mouth water and enjoy!

Simple Sun Dried Tomato Pesto ~ A.K.A. Vegan Rosso Pesto!

As an author, blogger and ghostwriter I spend a lot of time at home. In front of my computer. Sometimes hours go by without a break of any kind and the next thing I know…BAM, it’s time for lunch. Of course I’ve planned for lunch but that was when I was young and had fantasies that I wouldn’t work through lunch again and again. Next thing I know it’s three o’clock in the afternoon.

Too late to make a proper lunch without spoiling my evening meal but too early to skip it since I only had a nectarine and coffee this morning.

Enter bread toppers.

Pesto, tapenade, hummus, bruschetta, smears, dips and spreads…I love them.

I crave them.

They save my life.

Today, I’m talking about sun dried tomato pesto.

 

The first thing you need is sun dried tomatoes. You can get the ones in oil or water, or be brave and re-hydrate the dry ones, but make sure you give them a thorough look. I prefer the ones packed in oil because I’m working hard to reduce the oil in my diet and this lets me get a little bit to make it easier in the food processor but not so much that I feel like I’m drinking oil.

This recipe is pretty simple, all you need is:

Sun dried tomatoes
Roasted garlic
Blanched almonds (slightly toasted)
Roasted red bell pepper
Vegan parmesan
Black olives
Balsamic vinegar
Rosemary

Pop the ingredients into a food processor or chopper until the consistency is thick and kind of crumbly. If you add oil it will be a bit smoother but either way works well.

If you want to extend the shelf life beyond a week, oil might help. Maybe.

Not that any of us needs an excuse to enjoy a warm loaf of bread, but a solid vegan pesto is a better reason than most.

But don’t limit yourself to bread, crackers work well as does fresh vegetables like bell pepper strips, celery or carrot sticks can be an excellent vehicle for the pesto.

Add a blend of olives, wine or beer and you’ve got enough for a quick get together after work.

Live healthy. Live vegan.

Simple Herb-Roasted Veggies with Couscous

Some days I feel like spending a lot of time in the kitchen whipping up a delicious vegan meal from scratch because it keeps my cooking skills active and it’s a great way for me to work out plot problems while occupying my mind with something else. Then there are those days where I want to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible, BUT I also want a meal that’s tasty and nutritious.

And quick.

This was one of those days but the good news is that with a little bit of prep you can be in and out of the kitchen in a half hour. The first thing you want to do is prep. Clean, peel and chop all the vegetables you plan to put into the dish, for me it was marinated mushrooms, onion, carrots and potatoes. The onions were marinated in balsamic vinegar, rosemary, basil, garlic, salt and pepper FIRST, and set aside while I finished the chopping.

Because the mushrooms take some time to cook, you should get them going first, cooking until the water is all evaporated before adding the rest of the vegetables. Now I didn’t use oil in this dish but a tablespoon can be used after the mushrooms have been cooked properly. But if you’re feeling adventurous, try it without oil. Your heart will thank you.

The couscous is the easiest part of this meal, just boil water (2 to 1 ratio) and drop the couscous and remove from heat until the water is absorbed. Make this dish less dense by fluffing the grains with a fork before serving. Add a bit more nutrition by adding a 1/2 tablespoon of turmeric to the water.

The real star of this dish is the herb pesto that I whipped up and best of all it’s oil-free!

I used fresh basil, roasted garlic, toasted pine nuts and a handful of carrot greens for the pesto. Put all the ingredients into a food processor, add lemon juice and zest and seasoning. I didn’t use oil so I added water or acid to mix up the greens and the consistency came out perfectly. You might have to stir and mix it a few times while you do but it’s worth the extra minute or two it takes.

I like to add a few drops of chipotle Tabasco sauce and a pinch of cumin for a deeper, smokier flavor but test out different herbs & spices until you find a combination you love.

I don’t know if you noticed but I also added a can of butter beans, which I rinsed and added during the last few minutes of cooking, adjusting the seasoning one final time.

Layer the couscous and then the vegetables and add a spoon of pesto on top and you’ve got a meal that’s healthy, delicious and nutritious in under an hour.

And of course you need something to wash it down with, in this case a dark oatmeal stout.