We’ve all been there. Someone orders food for a group outing or team meeting (plant trial in my case) and it’s sandwiches or pizza. If it’s pizza, I’m pretty much out of luck unless I have a billion Lactaids on me but sandwiches are even more disappointing. There is nothing worse than a turkey sandwich with the following fillings:
- 1-2 pieces of lettuce
- Some unknown aioli sauce
- A few slices of red onion
- Bread bigger than my head
So then you go to scope out the boxed lunches are there are no vegetarian options. That’s okay though, because you’re used to picking stuff off or being flexible when everyone forgets. So you open the box and scope out the sandwich. The breakdown is as follows:
- Bread: 60%
- Meat: 35 %
- Sauce: 4%
- Lettuce: 1%
Welcome to #stuffontoast staring sad unknown sauce and piece of soggy lettuce. Also, it’s not toast.
I’m giving you the 101 on bomb veggie sandwiches so that even your meat eating friends will be satisfied, because sandwiches don’t have to be 95% bread and meat people.
- Set up: If you’re entertaining anywhere between a few friends to a larger group, just put everything out and have people help themselves. I’m a firm believer that if you’re feeding people you shouldn’t also have to take their orders. Set everything out in an area that’s easy to access but also not in the middle of the action. That also seems obvious, but I’ve been plenty guilty of placing the food table in the same area where everyone was sitting because I thought it would be easier to access. It actually wasn’t, because everyone was trying to eat and hang out in the same small area.
- Bread: Pay a trip to your local bread bakery. Despite my earlier comment about bread as big as my head, you still gotta have the good stuff to achieve a bomb sandwich. You want something fresh, thick, and dense (but not too dense). If you get bread that is too airy, it will get all soggy when you put dressing or sauce on it. If it’s too dense, then you’re just gonna be eating a brick of bread. Ciabatta is good – or any sandwich bread from an actual bakery, really. My favorite is Great Harvest Honey Whole Wheat. Bread will also last in the freezer for quite some time. Just slice it before so it’s easier to eat and double bag it.
- Fillings: This seems very obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people put out cheese and lettuce and think they are good to go. Choose a variety of fillings that are approachable but also interesting. Go with the standards like lettuce, shredded carrots, avocado, and sliced tomato. To spice it up, set out something pickled or a root vegetable like beets or radishes. You can use my quick pickle technique that I used for cucumbers on any vegetable for an easy addition.
- Sauce/Condiments: Again, it’s good to have variety here if at all possible. It is pretty safe to go with hummus or black bean dip as a thicker option. Aioli, mustard, or mayo are all easy things to put out at well. I have been loving the chipotle mayo from Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo collection.
- Other Ideas: I’m a firm believer that non meat alternatives that are “trying to be meat” are usually pretty meh. I do like to add things like tempeh bacon, or sliced veggie burgers for people to add to their sandwich. If it’s a wrap, even better! You could also add falafel patties, or something that holds it’s form when smushed between all those other tasty things you’ve got going on.
So now that you’ve got the ground work for your sandwich, what’s this thing I heard about tempeh bacon?? I won’t lie, it’s not bacon. It’s a bit less crispy than actual bacon, but still super savory. As Dan says, “It was it’s own thing, it’s not trying to be bacon” (see note 5 above on my opinions about meat substitutes).
You can marinate the tempeh for as little as 15 minutes and up to one day. Letting it sit longer does allow the tempeh to soak up all the juices, but it’s also not required. I’m not the best planner when it comes to my own meals so I like something that might take 1 hour as opposed to 8.
This tempeh is great on sandwiches, in breakfast burritos, or along side a pile of sautéed veggies. Before I was a vegetarian, I looooooved BLTs in the summer with fresh tomatoes from my dad’s garden. There is seriously nothing better. I’ve used this tempeh as a substitute and it’s the best thing I’ve found as a replacement so far. In the name of bacon made from fermented soy beans, here it is.
Servings: 8 oz, 12-16 pieces
Time: 30 minutes
- 8 oz tempeh
- 3 TBSP soy sauce
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- 1 TBSP hot sauce
- 2 TBSP agave
- 1 tsp cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
- Slice tempeh into 2-3 mm slices, as thin as you can go without it crumbling. Mix remaining ingredients in a small bowl.
- Lay tempeh in a shallow dish so that there is minimal overlap between pieces. Pour liquid mixture over tempeh and shake bowl lightly to distribute sauce. Marinate for 15 minutes, flipping tempeh slices half way through. You can marinate the tempeh as little as 15 minutes and up to 8 hours. Be sure to place it in the fridge if you are marinating longer than 15 minutes. It is an easy thing to prep the evening before a big breakfast so that your tempeh is ready to go first thing.
- Warm 1-2 TBSP of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Place tempeh in pan and fry on one side for about 3 minutes, or until browned. Flip tempeh over and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. If you are cooking a large batch, heat oven to 200 deg F and place cooked tempeh on a lined baking sheet as you wait to cook the rest of the batch.
- Eat tempeh immediately after cooking or out of the oven, do not try to reheat it. Rather, leave the tempeh in the sauce and let it sit in the fridge if you plan to eat it relatively soon. Enjoy on a bomb veggie sandwich, in a breakfast burrito, or along with a plate full of veggies.